Many schools teach bicycle safety but all of that can fly out the window for kids who recently took the courses or adults who have gone a long way from the small bikes and safety helmets. When the sun comes out, it’s hard not to want to just jump on your bike and tour your community. As the weather warms up, everyone wants to enjoy the sun and warmth.
With lots of bike trails in Arlington Heights (Lake Arlington), Schaumburg and Hoffman Estates (Busse Woods), and Des Plaines (the Des Plaines River Trails System), be careful! Remember that bicycles can be very dangerous and many people are injured in bicycle accidents.
What Causes Bicycle Accidents?
For young bicyclists, many accidents are unfortunately caused by their inexperience. The youthful bike riders make simple mistakes such as:
- riding out of a residential driveway, alley or side street without first looking,
- failing to stop at stop signs or traffic lights, and
- making left turns without first looking over their shoulder for approaching traffic and signaling.
With training, these children can prevent these types of accidents.
For adult bicyclists, most bike accidents are caused by motorists, such as failing to yield when making turns in front of bicyclists and failing to yield at stop signs and traffic lights. By sharing the road, observing traffic laws, and being patient and courteous, these crashes can be prevented by motorists and bicyclists.
AAA’s Bicycle Safety Tips
The AAA has provided a series of great rules to follow:
- Wear your helmet. They reduce your risk of serious injury by as much as 85%.
- Keep your head up and look ahead, not at the ground. See what is coming up so you can safely react.
- Only 1 person per bike.
- Ride in single file with space between bikes.
- Ride on the right side of the road, never against traffic.
- If you will ride in a group, plan ahead and determine the route ahead of time.
- Know any bicycle safety local laws and rules.
- Avoid busy roads and rush hour.
- Before riding at night, ask someone to help you check your visibility to motorists.
- Maintain the bikes in your household. Check the cleanliness of the chain and the wear of your brakes.
Illinois Bicycle Safety Local Laws
When riding your bicycle on Illinois roadways, you must obey the same traffic laws, signs, and signals that apply to motorists. Bicyclists must ride in the same direction as other traffic. Riding in the opposite direction of traffic is both dangerous and against the law. Motorists are required by law to allow at least 3 feet of space between them and a bicyclist when passing.
To try to get around these traffic rules, some start riding their bicycles on the sidewalk. In addition to endangering pedestrians who are walking on the sidewalks, check the local laws to ensure that riding your bike on the sidewalk is legal. In many communities, it is against the law to ride your bike on the sidewalk!
Additionally, bicyclists should memorize these simple hand signals.
- Signals shall be given from the left side as follows:
- Left turn – hand and arm extended horizontally.
- Right turn – hand and arm extended upward, except bicyclists may extend the right hand and arm horizontally and to the right side of the bicycle.
- Stop or Decrease of Speed – hand and arm extended downward.
- Signal not less than the last 100 feet before the turn, and while bicycle is stopped waiting to turn. Signals need not be given continuously if the hand is needed in the control of operation of the bicycle. (ILCS 5/11-806)
For more information, the Secretary of State’s office has provided this great pamphlet.