The Chainlink

Can someone explain how this law is enforced? I have never had a problem with it in the past.

I was riding my bicycle predictably and as far to the right as I could, when suddenly I was buzzed by a van passing way to close. Whoa! Pass with 3 feet! I exclaimed. While not more then a second later over the PA from local law enforcement comes, "Why don't you get on the sidewalk before you get killed". I proceeded down the road in shock of what I just heard. Why don't I get off he road, did that just happen?

Forward to a block or two up the road, and who pulls up next to me, the fuzz.. He slows and rolls down his window and asks, why don't you use the sidewalk before you get killed? I calmly explained that the sidewalks are dangerous to ride on with all the traffic coming in and out of all the parking lots and that bikes belong in the street. He exclaims that I am blocking and impeding the flow of traffic and that I should use the sidewalk. I reply with a sorry that it seems like I am blocking traffic, but I am traffic and(Again)bikes belong in the street and do not feel safe riding the sidewalk with all the turn ins and turn outs, and the lack of lowered curbs where the sidewalks end but curbs I have to jump off and up on. And that it is a two lane road, not packed with cars and people are just in a hurry. My road way is narrowing sir, I have to move myself over. No you don't he said, pull in here I want to talk to you. So I did.

He get's out and explains to me that I am impeding traffic by forcing cars to slam on their brakes, and change lanes to go around me, which simply wasn't the case. And that it is not me that is impeding traffic per say, but me and my trailer taking up to much room on the road. I explained to him, that it is not illegal for me to be riding in the street, and it is not illegal for me to be carrying a trailer in the street, which was loaded down with stuff I was carrying. And that the speed limit is only 35 and there were no cars slamming on their brakes but slowing down to properly pass me, and if that meant they needed to change lanes to do so in their eyes then so be it. It keeps me and makes me feel safer on the road then then when you saw me get buzzed a few blocks back by a motorist who didn't give me the legal buffer when passing.

This went on for a few minutes, and he explained how he bikes too and kept asking why I was being difficult about the situation and to just get on the sidewalk. And how it seems like I was being militant and trying to mess with cars and traffic. I explained that I was doing no such thing and I was just trying to reach my destination just like everybody else on the road. Then he tells me to use the sidewalk, and that if he caught me riding in the road again, when there is a sidewalk option that he is gonna ticket me for impeding the normal flow of traffic and I can go to court and explain it to the judge.

I have never had a problem along this road, and never had a problem with my trailer along this road or any other in the town of Arlington Heights. Usually it is the opposite, and they are very friendly telling me to be safe, and asking me if I am ok when they see me riding in the snow or freezing weather.

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I cannot stand cops on power trips.
Geez Louise Mark! Did you get the officer's name and badge? I ask because a police officer that is trying to enforce laws that don't exist and is bent on making things up to hassle you needs some post-incident corrections. Calls to superiors might be ignored I realize, but letter to editors might not be. Here on the chainlink you will surely find much support and simpatico, but it is the real world where the most dangerous drivers and cops live, work and drive.

How about a call to the police station to speak to the officer's superior with your facts right beside you....state law and Arlington Hts laws? That call might also be a fine time to suggest to the officer's superior that you think a letter to the editor of the local paper is a good place to highlight this incident, but then, do it. Your in the right and your description is very good and thorough. It might be scary to go up against law enforcement, but you/we have the right to expect fair treatment from those whose salary we pay to enforce actual laws. Keep riding and good luck whatever you decide.
I have been seeing a trend in cops lately. This trend is cops being downright ignorant and disrespectful to cyclists. a few weeks ago while working downtown, i was riding my bike under the train tracks in between canal and clinton on randolph. there was a bus in the left lane, and a county police SUV in the right. Since i had nowhere to go, i made myself visible in the rear view mirror of the officers SUV and then went back behind him. As soon as i did this, he slams on his breaks causing me to slam into the back of his SUV causing no damage. Now I know for a fact I caused a loud thud but he proceeded to drive off. Since this is randolph, there are a ton of lights so i was able to catch up to him. As I caught up to him I asked him why he had stopped in the middle of the road like that. He turns to me quickly and yells "Because I can stop wherever the hell I want to!" All of this while he was on his cellphone.

The Second incident happened last week. I was traveling southbound on wells somewhere just north of chicago I think. If I'm not mistaken, wells that far north is only a 2 lane road so from what i can remember, there was a bus and an ATV officer. The bus slowed down and the officer quickly became inpatient. The whole time i was watching him carefully when he suddenly without signaling or even looking in his mirrors flies into the bike lane right as im passing him. I was barely able to avoid him only having what seemed like an inch on either side of me in between his four wheeler and the parked cars. It was very close to say the least and I was not going slow so it could have been really bad. I stopped at the next light but the officer had disappeared.

My first instinct was to call and/or visit to report these incidents but they will simply fall on the deaf ears of a disgruntled officer who is suspended for two weeks and has to take all of the complaints for the precinct. I truly feel that it is a lack of respect for ordinary people on the part of the police. I have only run into a few officers who did not talk to me in a condescending tone.
Way to stand up to the cop M.A.R.K.! Hopefully as the numbers of cyclists grow, these kinds of tactics will become less common.
Mark, what street were you on? i ride through Arlington almost daily. About the only streets i won't use there are Arlington Hts rd. and Palatine rd.

i know you're right, so if you'd research the relevant laws of AH and Il and pass them along, we'd really appreciate it.
It is frustrating that each municipality has its own different bicycle ordinances, but it is the rider's responsibility to know what it is wherever they ride. In Arlington Heights, they ban 2 riders abreast and require a addition to the Illinois State Statutory requirements and restrictions.

You can check Chapter 18, Article 5 of the Arlington Heights Municipal Code. ( It states, in part:

Section 18-501 Bicycle Equipment. No person shall operate a bicycle not equipped with a bell
or other device capable of giving a signal audible for a distance of at least 100 feet, except that a bicycle shall not be equipped with nor shall any person use upon a bicycle any siren or whistle.

Section 18-503 Operation of Bicycles on Certain Sidewalks Prohibited. It shall be unlawful for
any person to ride a bicycle on any sidewalk in the Downtown District which is that area bounded by and including Sigwalt Street from Highland Avenue to Arlington Heights Road; Arlington Heights Road from Sigwalt Street to St. James Street; St. James Street from Arlington Heights Road to Highland Avenue; and Highland Avenue from St. James Street to Sigwalt Street.

Section 18-504
a. When two or more persons in a group are operating bicycles, they shall not ride abreast but
in single file.

e. All bicycles, when operated on roadways, shall be kept to the right and shall be operated as
nearly as practicable at the right hand edge of the roadway.
If you want to check out the State Statutes, go to ( You will find the statute that some police and cyclists and many drivers don't seem to be able to understand:

(625 ILCS 5/11‑1505) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 11‑1505)
Sec. 11‑1505. Position of bicycles and motorized pedal cycles on roadways ‑ Riding on roadways and bicycle paths.
(a) Any person operating a bicycle or motorized pedal cycle upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride as close as practicable and safe to the right‑hand curb or edge of the roadway except under the following situations:
1. When overtaking and passing another bicycle, motorized pedal cycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction; or
2. When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway; or
3. When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, motorized pedal cycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes that make it unsafe to continue along the right‑hand curb or edge. For purposes of this subsection, a "substandard width lane" means a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle or motorized pedal cycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.
4. When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.
(b) Any person operating a bicycle or motorized pedal cycle upon a one‑way highway with two or more marked traffic lanes may ride as near the left‑hand curb or edge of such roadway as practicable.
(Source: P.A. 95‑231, eff. 1‑1‑08.)
The League of Illinois Bicyclists has a nice, wallet sized copy of Illinois Bicycle Laws and I carry it with me always. I have had to show it to police twice to prove my point. I'd get one and keep it handy.

Does not help much if you don't know if where you are has a mandatory sidepath law or not, but at that point I'd ask to see the statute.
Guess i'd better get one or two bells for my transits through AH...

Also, thanks to M.A.R.K. and Ian for the legal quotes. i'm going to print them down amd carry a copy or two.

M.A.R.K. said:
The officer said nothing about me not having a bell..
VD, what i say is true in its entirety. if you dont believe me about wells, go look for yourself. its 2 lanes with a bike lane on either side. also, the only thing that hit the SUV were my arms absorbing the blow. no damage but a decent sound was made. he was on his cellphone, maybe he didnt hear it. the other day Josh hit the back end of some big cadilac and the driver never even noticed. maybe i got lucky but i stand firmly behind my experiences.
The League of Illinois Bicyclists card seems like a good idea. I would prefer a sticker to just put on the seat tube. Just an outline of the actual statutes. Mabye 1 for Chicago laws and 1 for Illinois laws? Anybody sell stickers out there?
this is about the lamest and most moronic thing I had heard recently.
un freakin' believeable

REMINDER : If anyone ever gets hassled by Chicago cops - do the following : *demand* a 'white-shirt"
(a.k.a. Seargent) be dispatched to the scene. It is your right and they will try to convince you otehrwise;
but hold your ground. You do *not* have to do anything (yes : anything) until one shows up.
Another district is preferred (checks and balances, you know)



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