What are the Bike Laws in Chicago?

This may not seem like a relevant topic in criminal law, but there are actually both State and Municipal laws governing bicycling in Chicago that could mean criminal offenses for either a driver or cyclist who violates the law.

Illinois Law

The law governing bicycles can be found in the Illinois Vehicle Code.  State law essentially lays out the “rules of the road” for automobiles sharing the road with cyclists.  According to 625 ILCS 5/11-1502, relevant traffic laws apply to cyclists the same as they do to drivers.  This means that cyclists get similar freedoms to drivers, but they are also subject to the same duties as drivers.  According to 625 ILCS 5/11-1509, a uniformed officer may at any time as the person riding the bicycle to stop and submit their bike to an inspection to see if the bicycle is unsafe or not properly equipped as required by law.

A cyclist turning left should approach the turn as close to the right curb or edge of the road as possible, and once the cyclist has made it to the opposite side of the roadway, they are required to stop out of the way of traffic.  The cyclist must then yield to any traffic in either direction on the road.  After the road is clear and safe for the cyclist to proceed, they can then rejoin the flow of traffic.

A signal of intention to turn is required to be given no less than 100 feet before completing the intended turn.  According to 625 ILCS 5/11-1511, the cyclist must also give signal to the direction of their intended turn while the bicycle is stopped waiting to turn, unless the hand or arm is needed to control the bicycle.

Cyclists are required to yield to any persons on the sidewalk or crosswalk if not riding in appropriate bike lanes.  They must also give an audible signal before passing any pedestrian on the sidewalk.  Once a cyclist is riding on a sidewalk or along a crosswalk, they have the same rights and duties that a pedestrian has.

Chicago Law

In Chicago, there are some laws that are more specific than the State laws.  For instance, according to the Municipal Code, left-turning vehicles must yield to cyclists approaching from the opposite direction in an intersection.  Also, any right-turning vehicle traveling in the same direction as a cyclist must not make the turn until safely clear of the rider.

Drivers are more restricted under the city laws, such as the prohibition on driving, parking, standing in a bike bath that may block or interfere with cyclists.  Drivers must also exercise due care with respect to cyclists under the law.

The penalty for violating the Code in Chicago is a fine.  For a simple violation the fine is $150.  If the violation resulted in an accident, the fine is $500 for each offense.

Whether you are a driver or a rider, there are laws that apply to you.  Violating these laws could subject you to penalties.  Criminal liability may not be easy to establish.  To ensure you are fairly represented, contact a qualified Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as responsible.

Practice Areas

Our Blog