05 March 2007

The importance of being specific

Have you contacted your state senator lately? Here's a good reason why you should (emphasis added to avert boredom):

Synopsis As Introduced
Amends the Illinois Vehicle Code. Provides that the driver of a vehicle overtaking a bicycle or individual proceeding in the same direction on a highway must maintain a distance of at least 3 feet between the vehicle and the bicycle or individual. Provides that a bicycle rider may signal a right turn by extending his or her right hand horizontally and to the right side of the bicycle. Provides that the rider of a bicycle or a motorized pedal cycle shall ride as close to the right-hand curb or edge as practicable and safe (rather than as close as practicable), except in specified circumstances. Provides that, in addition to the existing exceptions, the rider is not required to ride as close to the right-hand curb or edge as practicable and safe when the rider is approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.

The League of Illinois Bicyclists has been behind this bill all along, but they need our help--as individual, ordinary citizens with the power to tell our elected representatives how they can best work for us. We need to show the General Assembly that this is something that wouldn't benefit only some tiny, inconsequential "special interest" fraction of the Illinois population represented by some lobbying organization but in fact everyone who uses (and shares) the road.

I can't find any coverage on this by the press in Chicago (pesky US Olympic Committee hogging all the attention around here), but the LIB mailing list forwarded an article in the Pantagraph (down in Bloomington-Normal):
Illinois cyclists hope for new safety law

"Ed Barsotti of the League of Illinois Bicyclists found a willing audience when he asked state Sen. Edward Maloney to sponsor a bill requiring motorists to leave at least 3 feet between their vehicles and bicycles traveling in the same direction.
"The Illinois legislation also underscores a bicyclist's current right to stay in the lane reserved for traffic going straight and not be forced to ride near the curb at intersections with right-turn lanes, Barsotti said. And, the bill revises current law to allow cyclists to signal a right turn simply by pointing right rather than the traditional left arm bent at the elbow with the hand pointing up."

But remember--these aren't new rules, just clarifications of the old ones. Important and necessary clarifications, if you ask me--I was under the impression (hey, for good reasons) that the three-foot clearance, staying in the rightmost lane marked for the direction that you are traveling, and option to signal with your right hand were officially part of the law. Well, let's help the LIB help make them officially part of the law.


At 05 March, 2007 23:52, Blogger David Johnsen said...

Scott Richardson is the Pantagraph's outdoor editor. I spent an hour or so talking with him on the phone two weeks ago. He's putting together a big article about my book Biking Illinois to run this spring. I'm sure the main reason the safe passing story got covered is because Scott is a cyclist himself. We need to get some cycling journalists to infiltrate the Tribune and the Sun-Times!


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