If passed, the bill would allow motorists to exercise better, safer judgement
A bi-partisan bill to protect local cyclists is headed to the governor’s desk, and if signed, it’s a win-win situation for all parties involved.
Sponsored by Ride Illinois, House Bill 1784 would do four things: Allow cars to pass cyclists in no-passing zones, when the circumstances are deemed safe and appropriate; amend and clarify the current law (625 ILCS 5/11-70), which would legalize cycling on shoulders but not require it; allow a rear red light instead of or in addition to a rear red reflector; and lastly, clarify the cyclist lane position law, which instructs cars to pass with more than three feet of distance when the lane is too narrow.
Semantics aside, the change represents a step in the right direction. Some laws are notorious for their dubiousness. They can be well intentioned but ill conceived, as when a limitation is more dangerous than the very thing it’s trying to prevent. The Idaho Stop is a perfect example. In this case, HB 1784 addresses at least one limitation that restricts motorists from making a proactive decision to stave off accidents.
As most drivers and cyclists know, there’s a bit of a quandary whenever a car approaches from behind a moving cyclist. The current law expects cars to maintain a certain speed while remaining within the restrictive borders of a no-passing zone. In that situation, most motorists veer generously to the left, putting additional space between their car and the cyclist.
Technically, that’s breaking the law. Drivers are subject to a traffic citation, and as a result, law-abiding drivers wind up clipping the very people they’re patiently trying to avoid—a completely preventable scenario.
In this instance, lawmakers appear to have recognized that cyclists are better off by allowing motorists to make a thoughtful judgment call, and it’s an example of how lawmakers should be evaluating regulations based on practicality and not theory. It’s a commitment to safety without compromising integrity.