New Biking Law Draws Clear Lines for Bikers as Vehicles

Chicago has just been named the most bike-friendly city in America. No doubt the recent Illinois legislation that gives bikers access to the road equal to that of motor vehicles helped garner some votes. As a father of four who takes every opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, biking is a regular pastime, so knowing the rules of the road is as essential to bike safety as a helmet, and a key to avoiding bike accidents.

It’s little known that there’s a common sense element to the biker’s rules of the road. For the most part, if you are on the road, on a bike, in a car, you need to follow the rules of the road. The most important, and rarely practiced, aspect of this rule is that bikers don’t get to enjoy the benefits of being a pedestrian while riding in the road and vehicles must treat bikers with the same respect they would treat any other vehicle in the road despite the bicycle’s less formidable stature and slower speed.

So, yes, if there’s a vehicle that has arrived at a stop either before or at the same time as a biker, the biker must yield like any other vehicle. In practice a driver may afford a biker the courtesy of proceeding through the intersection ahead of the vehicle that actually has the right of way. But, to put it in legal terms, the motor vehicle driver’s waiver of her right-of -way must be express, not hijacked by the biker. At the same time, if a biker is proceeding through a controlled intersection is he expected to stop at every stop sign even if the intersection is completely clear of motor vehicles? A technical reading of Illinois law would say “yes,” but I would argue that a careful look right and left to ensure the intersection is clear of oncoming vehicles is sufficient.

Bikers don’t truly have the right of way to go through or in-between cars to advance to the head of the pack at an intersection; neither do motorcyclists for that matter. In other words, just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you have the right to do it under the law. At the same time, motor vehicles may pass a biker in its lane of traffic as long as the vehicle gives the biker a three feet wide berth.

Where things really seem to get murky is with respect to bike lanes. While research indicates that dedicated and physically protected bike lanes reduce accidents, and specific bike lane traffic control devices further optimize bike safety, the lack of education regarding the new roadway landscape is snarling the new traffic flow.

The existence of bike lanes on the road should raise the driver’s consciousness just the same as if there is an additional lane of traffic to the right or left. Of equal importance is that the biker remain keenly aware at all times that they are more difficult to see than a motor vehicle and their movement is not always consistent with typical traffic patterns. So bikers should always err on the side of protecting themselves and follow all traffic controls, including the roadway lines and lane markings.

The most confounding example is that of a far bike lane adjacent to a lane of traffic from which a motor vehicle may turn, crossing the bike lane. If the biker wishes to proceed straight while the motor vehicle seeks to turn crossing into the bike lane traffic, who has the right of way on a green light? This is a relatively new conundrum created by the growth of bike lanes on city streets. I would argue that both motor vehicle and biker should be cautious on the approach to such an intersection but the turning vehicle must yield to the bike proceeding straight (the rare instance when the biker, although occupying the road, gets to be treated similar to a pedestrian crossing the street). It goes without saying that all vehicles on the road should respect each other and protect themselves because safety serves everyone.

When in doubt, consult the Illinois Bicycle Rules of the Road https://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/publications/pdf_publications/dsd_a143.pdf.

We offer a no-cost, no-pressure, no-obligation consultation to discuss your rights

From our offices in downtown Chicago our personal injury litigation attorneys represent clients in communities throughout Cook County and Illinois. Learn more about ways we can help you receive the compensation you need for your physical, mental, emotional, and financial recovery. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.

$27

million

Product Liability - Family man paralyzed in a boating injury when he fell from the upper deck of a yacht. The offer by the insurance company for the defendant was only $3 million before trial and $25 million after three weeks of jury trial, offered after closing arguments.

Trial Attorneys Mark McNabola, Ruth Degnan

$20

million

Construction Site Negligence - A man was demonstrating construction equipment known as a “man lift," and was elevated in the air. The lift collapsed, and the plaintiff suffered permanent injuries to his ankle and lower back. McNabola represented one of two seriously injured plaintiffs. Prior to trial, the offer was only $3 million.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$14

million

Medical Malpractice - Following induced labor, the unborn child suffered fetal distress, C-section delivery was delayed. The baby’s mother died from an amniotic fluid embolism during delivery and the baby suffered severe developmental delays.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$12

million

Medical Malpractice - A 52 year old man suffered an anoxic brain injury following routine bowel surgery when doctors and nurses at a suburban hospital failed to properly monitor and treat post-operative metabolic changes. This case concluded after evidentiary rulings at the time of jury selection. The offer before trial was only $3 million.

Trial Attorneys Mark McNabola, Ruth Degnan

$10

million

Trucking Negligence - A grandmother who was rendered wheelchair dependent in a motor vehicle incident involving car versus truck. The offer for settlement prior to trial was only $2 million.

Trial Attorneys Mark McNabola, Ruth Degnan

$9.2

million

Medical Malpractice - A young woman suffered amputations as a result of complications following surgery at a suburban hospital in a collar county of Chicago. The doctors and nurses failed to develop and implement an appropriate plan to manage blood thinning medications pre and post-operatively leading to severe clotting and tissue death. The case settled after evidentiary rulings at the time of jury selection. Offer before trial was only $2 million.

Trial Attorneys Mark McNabola, Ruth Degnan

$8.8

million

Trucking Negligence - A young girl was killed when she was struck by a vehicle that had previously collided with a bus that was traveling too fast for conditions. After a ten-day jury trial, a Cook County jury returned a verdict in favor of the family. According to the Jury Verdict Reporter, this is a record high verdict for the wrongful death of a minor in a motor vehicle accident. There was no offer for settlement by any defendant.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$7

million

Trucking Negligence - Cook County jury awarded $7 Million to a construction worker who lost his leg working on a City of Chicago site. As a result of the defendant’s failure to safely route traffic in the area the man was pinned against his truck by a driver. The defendant did not offer any money to settle the case.

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola

$6

million

Motorcycle Negligence - A teenager and her father were injured in a motorcycle accident. The 15 y/o suffered a severe fracture of her right ankle and has required multiple surgeries

Lead Trial Attorney Mark McNabola