Bikes and Cars treated as Equals under Illinois’ Rules of the Road

Feb 16, 2017 | Categories: News | Tags: automobile, accident, bicycle

Recently, Governor Bruce Rauner signed House Bill 5912, and the bill went into effect January 1, 2017. This bill amends the Illinois Vehicle Code to include that every bicyclist is entitled to the same rights as vehicles, including to right of way, while on highways. This comes after hundreds of yearly deaths in bicycle/motor vehicle collisions.

While this is an excellent bill which protects bicyclists on our roadways, it had a tragic start. Dennis Jurs was killed in 2015 in a vehicle/bike collision. Jurs, a veteran, was hit in an intersection, in Kane County, where the driver who hit him had a stop sign but did not stop.

The Judge presiding over the case dismissed the ticket against the driver because Jurs was not operating a "vehicle" as defined by the Illinois Vehicle Code, and as such, the driver of the car did not have to yield the right-of-way to him.

This will change the way that both civil and criminal cases involving these types of collisions are handled. In a civil case, violation of a statute can be used as evidence of negligence per se. This means that there is a rebuttable presumption that a defendant was negligent because he or she broke the law. While the current law still allows bicyclists to pursue personal injury claims, this amendment to the law will make it easier for bike riders to show the negligence of the drivers who hit them. Furthermore, now that drivers are legally obligated to treat bicyclists as vehicles on the roadway, hopefully there will be fewer accidents in the future and drivers will be more cognizant of who they share the road with.