Gov. Rod Blagojevich has just signed Senate Bill 80 into law. Here’s a rundown on what the new law does:

Q: How will SB80 enhance the safety of cyclists and motorists in Illinois?

A: It will reduce risks from drivers squeezing by cyclists in narrow lanes. Drivers already were required to pass other vehicles – including bikes – at a safe distance. This new law clarifies the minimum safe clearance to pass a bike as three feet. League of Illinois Bicyclists (LIB) will work with police agencies, driver education teachers, and the Secretary of State to educate the public about the law.

Q: What are other key provisions?

A: Bicyclists may now signal a right turn with their right arm extended outward. They may now point where they’re going. That’s easier for drivers to understand. Also, the law addresses the common “right hook” crash, where right-turning drivers underestimate a bike’s speed, passing the cyclist, then cutting them off. To prevent this, bikes may now move out farther into the lane where cars might turn right.

Q: How many states now have 3-foot laws are on the books?

A: Seven at the start of this year. Several others had bills this year, but we don’t know which ones New bike law will better protect cyclistshave been passed.

The chief sponsors of the Illinois legislation were Rep. Elaine Neikritz, D-Northbrook, and Sen. Edward Maloney, D-Chicago.

The League of Illinois Bicyclists encourages both motorists and cyclists to follow all traffic laws and to share the road more safely.

Ed Barsotti
Executive director, League of Illinois Bicyclists

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