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Rules of the Road: Cyclists – Know Your Rights

Posted on: August 29th, 2016 by Romanucci & Blandin

More people are riding their bikes to work, school, or around town and with DIVVY stations popping up in Chicago and the surrounding neighborhoods, it’s easier to hop on a bike than ever before.  While riding your bike is an environmentally and economically friendly way to get around, it also could lead to dangerous accidents.



Unfortunately bicycle crashes, especially in Chicago, have been on the rise since 2005 and will likely keep climbing.  Even though you should always wear a helmet, this can’t protect you from every injury if you are hit by a vehicle.  It’s important to know your rights as a bike rider and what to do if you’re in an accident.  

In the state of Illinois, all bicyclists have the same rights as drivers on the road and recently a bill was signed that states all bicyclists on a highway are entitled to all the rights a car gets, including the right of way.  But what does that mean for you?  Here are a few of the rules of the road you’re entitled to:

  • First, it’s important to note that in most states it is illegal for bicyclists to ride on the sidewalk.  It’s safer for both cyclists and pedestrians if bikes stay on the road.
  • You’re entitled to a safe amount of distance from cars both in front and behind as well as to the side.  
  • You must ride on the right-hand side of the road.  Do not ride against traffic as this could cause an accident and you would be in the wrong.
  • You need to yield at intersections when you don’t have the right of way as well as when you’re changing lanes.
  • Finally, you must obey all traffic signs, lights, and signals.  If there is a stop sign, you need to stop and you can’t go whenever there is a break in traffic if you are stopped at a red light.  

But what happens if you follow the rules of the road and the cars around you don’t?  If you do get into an accident it’s important to follow these steps to make sure you’re taken care of and the person in the wrong is punished.  

  1. Attend to your medical needs first and foremost.  It is more important to take care of injuries than anything else.
  2. Call 911 so you can report an accident and get an ambulance if necessary.
  3. Get all the information from the driver of your car and any information that witnesses around the accident might have.
  4. Take pictures of the accident including your bicycle, the car, the intersection, and surrounding area.  This can help if you need to go to trial.
  5. As soon as you can, get legal advice from a lawyer who understands bicycle laws and will make sure your rights are protected.  

Make sure you completely understand your rights as a bicyclist and are always aware of your surroundings when you’re on the road.  These tips can help you stay safe and protect your rights if you are ever in an accident.   

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