Possible legislation for Chicago bike riding safety

By SpencerRoush

Cyclists are one-of-a-kind. Something pushes them to hop on their bike each day and pass by the nearest bus or train, which seems more convenient and much safer. Instead, they would rather pedal through dangerous traffic and compete for space on the road, not to mention face a bad case of helmet hair once they reach their destination.

Almost every cyclist has a horror story where a cab driver clipped them with their mirror or an inconsiderate driver cut them off and caused them to crash. Of course, not even these random, sometimes frequent encounters deter them from biking the next day.

As someone with poor balance who struggles to walk in a straight line, I commend cyclists on their daily road endeavors.

There is a growing biking population in Chicago and other major cities because it is eco-friendly and apparently fun. Because of this increased attention, cyclists continue to get more legislation passed to ensure their safety while riding.

The Illinois Senate unanimously passed a bill on March 18 which would make it illegal for a driver to crowd or threaten cyclists by coming too close, toward or near them. This will result in a Class A misdemeanor, unless the driver creates great bodily harm, disfigurement or a permanent disability, which is a Class 4 felony. The Illinois House of Representatives still needs to vote on the bill. Colorado passed a similar law last August.

In Illinois it’s already illegal to pass a cyclist with less than 3 feet between the rider and the car, but this new law would strengthen the existing one with a criminal penalty.

The bill would also make it illegal and punishable by fine to throw anything at a cyclist. It’s ridiculous government officials have to spend their time voting on a bill to make sure drivers don’t act like toddlers and throw things.

Some drivers are complaining about the possibility of new biking laws being passed across the nation saying, the 3-foot distance won’t make cyclists any safer.

Tony Kornheiser, ESPN radio and television host, made a few comments during his show on March 11—which is no longer available to listen to on ESPN’s Web site—that still has cyclists talking.

According to a transcript on TheWashCycle.com, Kornheiser said the use of cars may be eliminated on Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House, unless you’re the president or ride a bike. Kornheiser explained that it was a bad idea because roads are made for cars and cyclists will have to use other roads to get down to the area.

He continued to say, “I swear to you it’s all you can do to not run them down, like Wile E. Coyote, run them over. Just stay on the right. Stay on the right. I’m happy to share the road with you, but by ‘share the road,’ what I mean is you have room on the right and I have room on the road. Get the hell out of my way. Am I wrong on this?”

It’s comments like these that make non-bike riders understand why the above laws are necessary. However, pedestrians and cyclists don’t create the safest environment for themselves either.

Some drivers may feel overly entitled to the road, but they can’t get away with consistently running red lights and breaking other basic traffic laws like cyclists do.

Bikers’ arguments for more legislation can be difficult to support when they fail to follow the law, creating a dangerous environment for themselves and others. Vehicles may do more damage to a cyclist, but it doesn’t mean it’s always their fault.

Everyone needs to do their part and follow the rules to ensure safety. It’s difficult to keep cyclists and pedestrians safe when they put themselves in danger by running red lights and jaywalking.

As a frequent jaywalker, I too, will have to do my part.