Cyclists Banned from Cell Phone Use to Avoid Bicycling Accidents in Chicago

Texting and driving is bad enough. But texting and cycling?

The Chicago City Council recently passed an ordinance that prohibits bicyclists from texting while riding. Bike riders have also been banned from making phone calls while riding a bike unless they’re using a hands-free device, according to the Chicago Tribune. This ban will start in November. These regulations are being put on the books to help reduce the risks of bicycle accidents in Chicago.Our Illinois bike accident lawyers understand that distractions are causing a lot of people serious accidents. Cell phones and text messaging devices are causing accidents among motorists, pedestrians and now bicyclists. Under the new ordinance, if you’re busted using a hand-held cell phone while riding your bicycle in Chicago you could face a fine of $20 for a first-time offense. Every time you’re busted, the fine increases with a $100 fine for a third-time offense. If you cause an accident because you were texting or using a hand-held phone while biking, you could be slapped with a $500 fine.

According to sponsoring Ald. Margaret Laurino, 39th, this is an issue of fairness and safety. Since motorists in the city are already banned from these activities, bicyclists should be banned as well — the risks are the same.

“This ordinance basically levels the playing field between motorists and bicyclists,” said Laurino.

Some bicycling advocates are backing the new ordinance. Adolfo Hernandez, the director of outreach and advocacy with the pro-cyclist Active Transportation Alliance, says that the new ban makes perfect sense. He says that if bicyclists want to be treated equally on the roadways, they should have to follow the same rules. He continues on to say that officials should keep their focus on enforcing this law among motor-vehicle drivers — distractions contribute to far more accidents among motor-vehicle traffic than bicycling traffic.

Chicago officers say they’re going to stop cell phone-using bicyclists just like they would stop any other person on the roadway.

The Active Transportation Alliance says that its concerned that the new rule will take attention off of the ban that prohibits drivers in Chicago from using a cell phone or a text message device. Chicago officials say no way! They report that the number of cell phone citations has increased every year since the ban first started. There were nearly 3,000 violations recorded in 2008, nearly 11,000 in 2009 and nearly 20,000 in 2010.

The new ban comes after the city’s announcement that approximately 300 bicycle renting stations were being installed. These stations will offer roughly 3,000 rental bikes to residents and visitors of Chicago by next summer. Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s is also keeping up with his promise to install about 100 miles of protected bike lanes over the next four years.

As the bicycling community continues to grow, local officials try to keep up with accommodating these individuals. Motorists are still the biggest threats to bicyclists in the area so we ask that all motor-vehicle traffic keep an eye out for our two-wheeled travelers.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a bicycle accident, contact the Chicago personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS. There is no fee unless you win.

Additional Resources:

Chicago City Council bans texting while bicycling, by John Byrne, Chicago Tribune
More Blog Entries:

Chicago bike accident lawyer files Cook County lawsuit on behalf of injured teen, Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, August 27, 2011

Illinois Department of Transportation Welcomes Bicyclists for Safe Summer Fun, Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, July 20, 2011

Contact Information