You may find this story slightly boring, but it’s important so I hope you’ll take a minute or two to read it. I would have missed it were it not for Google Alerts. It was published in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, a newspaper I’ve never read before today. It relates to recent passage of Illinois HB 5912, a law that reinforces and clarifies the right of cyclists to use the state’s roads and highways.
HB 5912 was advanced in response to the tragic death of Illinois cyclist Dennis Jurs who was killed in a 2015 collision with a motor vehicle in Kane County. The motorist in that incident was ticketed at the scene, but charges were eventually dropped due to conflicting case law. HB 5912 clarifies that case law and provides the courts with clear direction going forward. The bill easily passed with only one nay vote and has been signed by the governor. It takes effect on January 1, 2017.
Like most states, Illinois law already treats bicycles as vehicles so it seems like this should be easy. Unfortunately, too many motorists still have the mindset that their right to use the roads trumps the rights of more vulnerable road users. This way of thinking extends into the courts and manifests itself in how motorists who run down cyclists are charged and prosecuted.
HB 5912 should aid Illinois courts in terms of administering justice when a cyclist is hit but more importantly, it reinforces the legal position that bicycles are vehicles…something the motoring public doesn’t always seem to understand. We don’t belong on the sidewalk. We don’t even have to use the side path or the bike lane if one is present. In Illinois, at least, we have the same right to use the road as anyone else. It couldn’t be more clear thanks to HB 5912.