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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Illinois 3-foot passing law signed by governor

I'm a bit late in reporting this bit of good news for Illinois cyclists, but on Aug. 16, Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed a bill that requires motorists to leave at least 3 feet of clearance while passing a bicyclist.

The new law takes effect Jan. 1.

The new law also gives cyclists the option of a right arm hand signal when turning right and allows cyclists to "take the lane" where right turns are authorized. In addition, the law states that a bicyclist is to ride as close to the right-hand curb as practicable and safe. The law previously provided that they ride as close as possible.

The League of Illinois Bicyclists and the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation played a key role in getting the law passed. LIB has posted a PDF file that does a good job of explaining the new law.

The battle over the state budget in Illinois overshadowed a lot of issues in the Illinois General Assembly this year, but cyclists have won some battles this year:
  • A bill that amends the Illinois Highway Code requiring IDOT to build "bicycle and pedestrian ways" with major urban road projects awaits the governor's signature. It provides that bicycle and pedestrian ways shall be given full consideration in the planning and development of transportation facilities, including the incorporation of such ways into state-funded transportation plans and programs. It also provides that bicycle and pedestrian ways shall be established in conjunction with the construction, reconstruction, or other change of any state transportation facility, and special emphasis shall be given to projects in or within one mile of an urban area. The exceptions are in pavement resurfacing projects that do not widen the existing traveled way or do not provide stabilized shoulders or where approved by the state based upon documented safety issues, excessive cost or absence of need.
  • An attempt to create the offense of negligent vehicular homicide has been shelved in an Illinois House committee, but Blagojevich did sign a bill that requires teenagers taking driver's education courses to learn the dangers of distracted driving. Both proposals were prompted by the death of Matt Wilhelm, who was killed last September while riding his bicycle in Urbana, Ill., by a car driven by a woman who was downloading a cell phone ring tone.

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