Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Warning: Chicago cops targeting Lakeview bicyclists

Readers of my personal journal will of course know that I recently became Chicago's newest bicyclist, and am so far really enjoying it. Regular readers will also know that in Chicago, bicyclists are considered motorists in the eyes of the law - with the same rights as any car-based motorist, but also responsible for the same traffic rules. Well, I guess not enough bicyclists in the yuppie-friendly Lakeview neighborhood seem to understand this, because the Chicago police have started pulling them over for such things as failing to stop at stop signs and traffic signals. They're just letting people off with a warning right now, but starting next month they'll be issuing $75 tickets, just like a car driver would get for breaking such laws.

And I say it's about time, man! If bicyclists want to be respected by all those on the road driving those three-ton killing machines known as cars, they have to adhere to the same rules those car-drivers are required to adhere to as well. And as long as we have bicyclists zooming through red lights, riding on the wrong sides of streets, riding on sidewalks, and not yielding to pedestrians (things I see every single day as a fellow bicyclist in Lakeview), car drivers are never going to respect the rights of bicyclists while on city streets. If you are a bicyclist in Chicago, you owe it to yourself to read up on the legal responsibilites you have as such. And if you're not going to do it voluntarily, it looks like the cops are going to do it for you anyway. (Thanks to Chicagoist.com for bringing this to my attention.)