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New Illinois Law to Help Motorists in Passing Cyclists

Posted on in Traffic Offenses

New Illinois Law to Help Motorists in Passing CyclistsIllinois law protects cyclists’ right to share the road with motorists, but some situations make it difficult for both parties to do so while staying safe. Take the scenario where a motorist and cyclist are traveling in the same direction on a narrow, two-lane road with a speed limit of 40 miles per hour. If the motorist is behind the cyclist, the motorist may want to pass because the cyclist is unable to travel at the speed limit. However, there are several rules of the road that can make it illegal to do so:

  • The motorist must give the cyclist three feet of space when passing, which may be impossible while staying in the lane;
  • A no-passing zone would make it illegal for the motorist to use the opposite lane to pass the cyclist; and
  • The cyclist is not allowed to ride on the shoulder of the road.

Motorists can either commit a traffic violation in order to pass the cyclist or remain behind the cyclist at a significantly reduced speed. Obeying the law may agitate the motorist, leading to a reckless decision that could endanger the cyclist. Recognizing the unsafe situation, Illinois plans to enact a law that allows motorists to safely pass cyclists without committing a traffic violation.

New Law

The bill, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, revises the section of the Illinois Vehicle Code regarding overtaking vehicles by passing to the left. Cyclists will be permitted to ride on the shoulder in order to allow motorists to pass them. Motorists will be allowed to pass a cyclist by crossing the center line in a no-passing zone, as long as:

  • The cyclist is moving at less than half the speed limit;
  • The motorist does not exceed the speed limit in passing the cyclist; and
  • There is enough space to the left of the center line to allow the motorist to pass.

The bill also revises a section relating to the rear lights that cyclists must use when traveling at night. A bicycle can have a rear lamp that emits a steady or flashing red light instead of the red reflector. The vehicle code previous stated that the rear lamp could only be in addition to the red reflector.

Rules of the Road

Driving recklessly close to a cyclist, pedestrian or person on horseback is a class A misdemeanor. If the person is injured in the incident, it becomes a class 3 felony. A McHenry County criminal defense attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can defend you against charges of traffic violations. To schedule a free consultation, call 815-338-3838.



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