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Chicago passes slew of bike safety ordinances

Posted by on March 13th, 2008 at 1:38 pm

Chicago’s City Council has passed new laws that are intended to send a serious message to motorists about operating safely around bicycles.

Mayor Richard Daley told the Chicago Tribune, “We are committed to making Chicago the most bicycle-friendly city in the country, and safety is a very critical part of the plan.”

Here are the four laws that were passed (and carry fines of $150 to $500 if a crash results):

    1. Turning left or right in front of someone on a bicycle.
    2. Passing with less than 3 feet of space between car and bike.
    3. Opening a vehicle door into the path of a cyclist.
    4. Parking or otherwise obstructing marked bike lanes.

In addition to political support, the ordinances were also backed by the Chicago chapter of the American Automobile Association (AAA).


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I applaud these efforts to make bicycling safer in Chicago. Anything that keeps my dear sister safer when she\’s out riding is a good thing. I foresee lax enforcement, though. The traffic laws in Chicago are only barely followed by drivers in most of the city, because drivers know the Chicago Police don\’t have time to write traffic tickets all day.


I guess it\’s a start. As mentioned in the Chicago Tribune, it will be interesting to see how well the new rules are enforced. Will these new laws penalize the driver that killed the cyclist that ran the redlight?
The motivating death for the new ordinances, highlighted in the Chicago Tribune, is unfortunately fodder for drivers who cannot accept the fact that most cyclists follow the rules of the road as religiously as your average motorist. The consequences of a collision by two automobiles is very different from that of an automobile and bike.
This story reminds me of all the watercooler tales of \”reckless cyclist\” the tellers almost hit, as if this justifies the actions of careless motorists.
Will these ordinances change attitudes and behavior?? Only time will tell.