02

Blog

New Illinois Passing Law

Illinois has just passed one of the most comprehensive laws in the country specifying when a driver may legally pass a bicyclist in a designated no-passing zone. Governor Bruce Rauner signed the law, formally known as HB 1784, on August 25th. It goes into effect January 1, 2018.

The law adds clarity of Section 11-703 of the Illinois Vehicle Code. It states that,

A driver of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on a highway may. . . pass to the left of the bicycle on a portion of the highway designated as a no-passing zone if the driver is able to overtake and pass the bicycle when:
(1) the bicycle is traveling at a speed of less than half of the posted speed limit of the highway;
(2) the driver is able to overtake and pass the bicycle without exceeding the posted speed limit of the highway; and
(3) there is sufficient distance to the left of the centerline of the highway for the motor vehicle to meet the [legal] overtaking and passing requirements.

The new law also maintains the existing requirement that drivers provide bicyclists at least three feet of space when passing.

I worked with Ed Barsotti, Chief Programs Officer of Ride Illinois, on drafting this portion of the bill. Our goal was to provide as much clarity as possible to drivers to help ensure the safety of people on bikes in our state. Recently there has been a push nationwide to clarify when drivers may pass slower moving bicyclists on roadway sections signed or striped as no-passing zones. Road sections are generally designated as such, either with signage or double-yellow lines, based upon an engineering determination that passing at a speed required to pass a motor vehicle is unsafe. The lesser speed often necessary to pass a slower moving bicyclist generally does not play a role in the designation of a section as a no-passing zone. Illinois law currently contains a provision that permits drivers to leave the right half of a roadway “when an obstruction exists.” However, the Vehicle Code does not define what an “obstruction” is, leaving it up to individual police officers and judges to determine whether a bicyclist is an obstruction, akin to a fallen log, pothole or deer carcass, or not. Is a bicyclist always an obstruction, or only when riding at less than the posted speed limit? Also, the Vehicle Code grants bicyclists all of the same rights and duties to use the road as motorists. A person on a bike is not a mere annoyance to be end-rounded by people in cars. Aside from the practical lack of direction of the law provided, the message it arguably sent was that people riding bikes were second class road users.

We also hoped to do better than other states that enacted similar laws providing drivers with too much discretion with regard to passing bicyclists in a no-passing zone. For example, in states like Maine and Mississippi a motor vehicle may pass a bicycle traveling in the same direction in a no-passing zone when it is “safe to do so.” It seemed more prudent to clarify that there are certain, clear instances when it will not be safe to do so; like when the driver must exceed the post speed limit to pass the bicyclist.

Our desire for greater clarity in the law was born of experience. In August 2016, I represented an Illinois bicyclist at trial who was injured by a driver who attempted to pass him in a no-passing zone in Libertyville, in Lake County. The driver, impatient at having to travel behind my client who had moved out into his lane to make a left turn, crossed a double yellow line and attempted to pass him in an intersection. The bicyclist had clearly signaled his intention to turn. He was struck while into his turn by the passing driver. Nevertheless, a responding police officer, adding insult to injury, ticketed the bicyclist for obstructing the roadway. The officer explained in his deposition that the driver did nothing wrong in attempting to pass when and where he did in light of the bicyclist blocking his ability to travel at the posted speed. He said, “It’s an everyday occurrence out there when you’re talking bicyclist. If he comes over a hill and you’re moving – and the bicyclists are moving slower than what the posted speed limit is and you come over the hill and you now have this option to either run them over because, as you said, the lanes are sub standard to fit both vehicles and bicyclists in it or to go around them, do the later part and go around them.”

We were able to have the ticket dismissed and we won the trial against the driver. However, the officer’s imprudent application of what he understood the law to be was a significant hurdle in achieving justice for our client. [Click here to read more about the case.] Illinois’ new bicycle safety law will allow for less independent interpretation regarding when a driver may safely pass a bicyclist.

Photo credit: I am Traffic

Comments

AJ's Bicycle Shop in Iowa
Jim Freeman Jul 15, 2019

Bicycling Magazine recently published an article titled, “Hey, Bike Shops; Stop Treating Customers Like Garbage.”  The story follows a heavy-set 59 year old’s sad tale of how he was treated poorly from a number of local bike shops.   First and foremost, I would be clear that bikes are for almost everyone.  If you are big, […]

Read More
Bike accident scene
Rick Bernardi Jul 12, 2019

The big bike news out of the Oregon legislature this year was the passage of a Stop as Yield law. This was an enormous legislative victory for Oregon cyclists, the culmination of over a decade of advocacy. But it wasn’t the only legislative victory for Oregon cyclists this legislative session. A less glamorous but equally […]

Read More
Uber Biking Escort
Charlie Thomas Jul 11, 2019

I often find myself wanting to ride on a roadway corridor that doesn’t want me there. At best, I could make it across alive with some close calls and a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. At worst, I wouldn’t be around to write this blog post.  Of course, a safer, alternate route […]

Read More
Cycling Without Age Bike Law
Brian Weiss Jul 11, 2019

The founder of the Lakewood Bicycle Advisory Team loves his life on two wheels. Gary Harty was born in Bellows Falls, Vermont, and raised in Colorado – Denver Metro area, and now makes bicycling in Lakewood, Colorado safe and fun.  Gary is part of the baby boomer generation. He attended Colorado State University (CSU) and […]

Read More
Rachael Maney Bike Law
Rachael Maney Jul 10, 2019

Outrage.  It is what drives action and engagement on the interwebs these days. If it’s not outrageous, it’s boring. The Election of 2018 proved that outrage increases TOS (“time on site”) more than friendship, sympathy, desire, or anything else.  Judgment. By definition it is necessary to reach any conclusion about anything. But passing it on […]

Read More
Stop as Yield for Cyclists
Rick Bernardi Jul 09, 2019

The Oregon Legislature made national news this past week, for all the wrong reasons. The State Senate, with a super-majority of Democrats in control, had been working on climate legislation which would have Oregon join a cap-and-trade market with California and Quebec. Unable to stop the legislation, Republican Senators fled the state en masse, preventing […]

Read More
Bike Law Alps
Charlie Thomas Jul 07, 2019

It’s Tour de France time. I follow the racing daily through the footage on TV feed and still photos. But I hadn’t ever considered what’s happening on the other side of the camera lens. Like, what actually goes into snapping these pictures that we see documenting the Tour’s happenings? I started to care more about […]

Read More
E Bike and insurance
Lauri Boxer-Macomber Jul 01, 2019

Prologue  Last month, I rode across the Casco Bay Bridge to talk e-bikes and insurance with Bob O’Brien, the Vice President of Noyes, Hall and Allen Insurance in South Portland, Maine.  Although I have yet to invest in an e-bike for myself, I have been captivated by e-bikes and their potential to get and keep […]

Read More
Brooke Nelson
Danny Feldman Jul 01, 2019

Brooke Nelson has been the ride director of the Cheaha Challenge (www.cheahachallange.com) since shortly after the 2014 ride and in the past 5 years, ride participation has increased 188%.  Since 2017 when it became the only UCI Qualifier, Alabama’s biggest ride has become known nationally and internationally.  The 2019 ride had participants from 31 states […]

Read More
Joe Piscitello Jun 20, 2019

Thanks to some outstanding advocacy efforts, both the state of Pennsylvania and the city of Philadelphia have recently scored two important wins for cycling safety. Pennsylvania:  “Dutch Reach” in State Driver’s Manual The “Dutch Reach” method of opening a car door has finally been added to the State Driver’s Manual after many years of conversation. […]

Read More
Pat Brown Jun 20, 2019

ONTARIO BICYCLE LAWS It’s important to know your legal rights (and duties) when bicycling in Ontario. It is especially important after a bicycle accident (we call them bicycle “crashes” and explain why here). For any questions about the Province’s bike laws, or about your rights to the road, contact attorney Pat Brown directly. Right to […]

Read More
Ladies on Spokes
Bruce Hagen Jun 19, 2019

Some people are in Book Clubs.  Others may have a green thumb and gravitate towards Garden Clubs.   Finding like minded people to share a common interest is an important part of being an active member of your community.   In Newnan, there is a group of women who have made their shared passions a vital […]

Read More
Load More