Saturday, March 15, 2008

will new laws make cycling safer in Chicago

Chicago now has a new ordinance to improve bike safety in Chicago. The ordinance makes it illegal for drivers to leave less than 3 feet of space when passing cyclists, to open car doors into the path of cyclists, to turn right or left directly in front of moving cyclists, or to park in or otherwise obstruct marked bike lanes. Gapers Block ran a piece on the ordinance just before it passed.

This video illustrates how a little more attention by careless drivers can make a big difference in safety.

If you drive but don't ride a bike
, please get into the habit of checking your side mirror every time you are about to open your car door into traffic. A car door opened at the wrong time can serious injure or kill an unsuspecting cyclist. I've suffered broken bones from being doored. Please use your side mirrors to check for cyclists just as you would look for other moving vehicles, especially when you are about to turn.

If you ride, try to use side mirrors and brake lights as warning indicators that a driver may open a door in front of you. Look ahead for drivers who may turn right or left in front of you, forcing an emergency stop or evasive maneuver. Spend time observing the patterns of cab and bus movement and learn to predict when and where they will stop so you can work around them. Please use courtesy when riding. Don't go on and off the sidewalk. Ride predictably. Use turn signals. If you need to make noise to make yourself visible, do it.

To read the actual text of the ordinance, click here.

For laws like this to be effective, there should be some courtesy on both sides of the fence. Let's be safe out there and have a summer of good riding and no cycling fatalities!

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