Hey, AR readers!
It's common sense - at least, something you were taught very early - to stop for a red light. To not go the wrong way down a one way street. To signal your turns. Right?
Apparently, however, many let these rules go out the window while cycling. Further, many riding their bikes feel there is nothing wrong with that!
That kind of attitude could cost you here in Chicago, however, as Chicago Police Department plan to toughen enforcement of traffic rules for cyclists here. Violations could bring a $25 fine.
Just another ploy for "The City That Works" to generate more revenue? Not really! So far in 2008, four bicyclists have been killed in motor vehicle accidents on the North Side of Chicago.
The common-sense bike laws - not running a red light or stop sign, not riding on the sidewalk, riding the right way down a one-way street, weaving across traffic lanes - are routinely ignored here. Other rules - such as hand signaling turns, or maintaining a headlamp and reflectors for night cycling - are not always followed.
The lax enforcement will soon end, however. According to Chicago Police Spokesperson Monique Bond, "We're going to be enforcing the same traffic laws for bikes as well as motorists, so that both respect each other and the rules of the road as far as bike safety and motor safety."
Last week, Chicago Police Sgt. Mark Silva pulled over a cyclist in the Lakeview Neighborhood on the North Side who failed to stop at a red light before making a right turn at the six-way intersection of Clark and Halsted Street, and Barry Avenue. The bewildered cyclist asked if he was breaking the law. "It is a cit able offense, absolutely," Silva told him. "But we're not out here to punish people, we're out here to change habits."
Silva and Bicycle Patrol Officers Lisa Taras and Kelvin Chow said they rarely write tickets for cyclists who run stop signs or go the wrong way on one-way streets. But Silva emphasized that cyclists do need to at least be warned about dangerous behavior, to prevent serious accidents.
"Most people we talk to say that rolling through a stop sign or a light is not that important compared to other things going on," Silva said. "But people can die." Proving his point, one cyclist who ran a red light narrowly missed being struck by a car as police officers watched from a block away.
Last Thursday, Chicago Police riding bikes pulled aside roughly 30 cyclists, nearly one-fifth for riding through the intersection without stopping at the red light.
Some question the priority of enforcing Bicycle Safety in Chicago, feeling most bike accidents here are caused by careless motorists rather than those riding a bicycle. Flagrant traffic violations by many cyclists suggest those on the bikes can contribute to an accident just as easily as those behind the wheel of motor vehicle.
So be warned - continuing to violate Bicycle Riding Rules of the Road here in Chicago could lighten your wallet, and be dangerous!
See our post yesterday via BlogChicagoHomes.comfor more, as well as links to the story and included video by Robert Mitchum in yesterday's Chicago Tribune. For the City of Chicago Website highlighting Chicago Bicycle Traffic Safety Laws, as well as a City Bike Map, click here.
DEAN & DEAN'S TEAM CHICAGO