The Chainlink

Hi, I'm a cyclist and reporter at WBEZ's Curious City.  I'm working on a story about bike traffic laws.  Are bike traffic laws being enforced in Chicago?  I'm looking for bikers to share their experiences either being ticketed or stopped by CPD.

Call us and leave a message at (1-888-789-7752) or look for me at Critical Mass this Friday, where I'll be biking around with a microphone and gathering stories.

- John Fecile



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Have you gotten any more since then?  Have you been biking since then?

I received two tickets within a couple years of each other about 20 years ago.  One was in the Loop while the other was at Balbo/Michigan.  Both were for riding through a red light.

About ten years ago I was pulled over on two occasions and given warnings- once for riding through a stop sign, the other for rolling through a red light.

I still ride but usually stop at signs and lights.  

I got stopped by the police for going through a red light southbound at Belden and Lincoln.
I came to a complete stop and checked to see if any cars were coming from Belden. I heard a police siren hiccup briefly, looked back and saw the police car, but didn't know why he hit the siren. I then crossed Belden (like a pedestrian, but riding slowly) and after checking the next street, proceeded down Lincoln.
About a block later he pulled me over very upset telling me that I have to follow the same rules of the road that cars do. I tried to explain that I didn't do anything dangerous or even inconvenient to anyone else, but he just got more upset, so I said I understood the rules and was sorry. He let me go with a warning. At that point I realized that he probably thought I was being disrespectful of him by crossing against the light in front of him.
I try to ride safely and courtesly, but following the rules for cars often doesn't make sense for a bike, so I use common sense in when to follow them. That now includes altering my behavior when police are present.
To answer your question though, no the police seldom stop bikes, and even more rarely issue tickets.

I haven't been ticketed but I do follow the laws fairly carefully.

Unfortunately, I have seen multiple instances of the police not enforcing motorists violating the laws that are meant to protect cyclists. That is the bigger story to me because opening doors, parking/stopping in bike lanes, and distracted (texting/talking) driving are behaviors I see every day I ride my bike. Every day. Yes, I am careful not to ride too closely to parked cars, I signal and carefully go around the cars in the bike lanes, and when I see a distracted driver I make sure to stay away but if the police would enforce these laws, I think it would be very impactful in changing behaviors and make it much safer to ride a bike in the city. It'd be much more revenue for the city and so why not enforce these laws?

I've often pointed out that the Dept of Revenue writes parking tickets and could generate an awful lot of revenue for the city if they ever start enforcing the law against parking in bike lanes.  The offense is highly predictable.  Every commuter sees cars parked illegally in the same spots every day, but they'll just keep doing it until the law is enforced.



A friend reports that he got a warning ticket from a Metra cop this morning, after the cop ran a stop sign and almost hit him. 

On what authority does a Metra police have to write a ticket? Was this incident on Metra property?

2 years ago I was stopped by a police officer for riding on the sidewalk.  I wasn't actually riding on the sidewalk when he stopped me, I'd gotten off once I was fully out of the street and then started walking my bike, but I think he thought I'd only gotten off because I saw him.  He didn't give me a ticket, just a warning, but he did write down my name.  

Twice I've had police officers tell me I had to get off the LFP at night because the park closes at 11p. I ride on the LFP after 11p fairly frequently (commuting home from a night job) and there have been plenty of other times I've passed police officers kicking other people out (mostly groups of kids or couples making out) who seemed to have no problem with me biking on the path.  A friend of mine once got a ticket for biking on the path after 11p (but that was at least 7 years ago). 


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