The Chainlink

A while back I believe someone posted the statute that allows riding on sidewalks and paths on Park District property.  Recently, some residents along Sheridan Road are trying to ban bikes from "The Meadows" area, east of Sheridan between Bryn Mawr and Berwyn.  Last week, "Walk Your Wheels" signs went up.  I've ridden this section for the past 12 years on my way to work.  It's Park District property and I consider it an extension of the LFT and the safest way to access the LFT at the underpass north of Foster.

Would appreciate it if someone can cite that statute.  Thanks

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My understanding of this  area of the park, where I have ridden, is that it  is a path and not  a sidewalk. This is going through  a part of the park where there are neither roads nor  sidewalks but a path.  That path is a multi use path and the  walkers seem  to  have  unilaterally adopted it for their  own use. Do I  have this correct?

Yes, I agree that it clearly is not a park district sign and should be removed.

On the other hand the park district puts up some ridiculous signs that say "Cyclists yield to pedestrians. Please dismount." There is one by the Field Museum and one by 55th. There are probably others.

I say that are ridiculous for two primary reasons:

1. If I dismount, I am no longer a cyclist.

2. There are no signs to say it's okay to mount again.

(and a third: Cyclists are always supposed to yield to pedestrians)

In general, i ignore "cyclists dismount" signage, as i usually encounter it where it is totally unnecessary (e.g. on many Lake County DesPlaines River Trail bridges.)

 i will dismount in certain conditions when it makes common sense to do so, such as when leaving crowded public events and encountering dense pedestrian traffic.

At least the signs you mentioned say "please."

It stands to reason then that if cyclists are always to yield to pedestrians, presumably due to greater power and speed, then motorists should always yield to cyclists for the same reason.

That is the general principle in right of way rules, including right of way on the water. 

The statute for the state of Illinois reads as follows:

(625 ILCS 5/11-1512) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 11-1512)
    Sec. 11-1512. Bicycles on sidewalks. (a) A person propelling a bicycle upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, shall yield the right of way to any pedestrian and shall give audible signal before overtaking and passing such pedestrian.
    (b) A person shall not ride a bicycle upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, where such use of bicycles is prohibited by official traffic-control devices.
    (c) A person propelling a bicycle upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, shall have all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances.
(Source: P.A. 82-132.)

Bruce, Chicago is a home-rule municipality.  Since the state of Illinois has not specifically legislated that state law regarding bicycles shall prevail, it is Chicago's municipal ordinance that governs whether bicycles are allowed on Chicago sidewalks, not the statute you cite. 

Here is the Chicago ordinance, which I've probably posted before and which Maurice references above:

9-52-020. Riding bicycles on sidewalks and certain roadways. (a) No person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk within a business district. (b) No person 12 or more years of age shall ride a bicycle upon any sidewalk in any district, unless such sidewalk has been officially designated and marked as a bicycle route. (c) Bicycles shall not be operated on Lake Shore Drive or on any roadway where the operation of bicycles has been prohibited and signs have been erected indicating such prohibition. (d) Whenever a usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a roadway, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the roadway. (Added Coun. J. 7-12-90, p. 18634)

That's the deal about bikes on Chicago sidewalks.  If you want to read more about how Chicago home rule generally prevails over Illinois statutes, check out this article:

Jim, I thought there was also a carve-out allowing you to ride on the sidewalk if you're riding to or from a bike rack, or something like that. Do you know?

You're right Alex:

"(a)   Unless the prohibition imposed by subsection (c) applies, a person may ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk within a business district, but only if such sidewalk has been officially designated and marked as a bicycle route, or such sidewalk is used to enter the nearest roadway, intersection or designated bicycle path, or to access a bicycle share station."

Interesting. The wording on its face seems to say:

-you can ride on the sidewalk if going TO the street (presumably while coming from a bike rack, or a building, etc.)

-you can ride on the sidewalk if going TO a Divvy station

So by extension you could also ride on the sidewalk FROM a Divvy station (because you would fall into the first category--biking TO the street).

But what about coming FROM the street TO a bike rack or to your door? Seems like the carve-out does not apply! :) 

Well, remember that the municipal code is not an instruction manual, but a determination of right of way. A police officer can detain you for anything they want, so this wording doesn't protect you from getting a ticket, but it will assist when you're in front of a judge. Full disclosure, I was a part of the team that helped put this language in place. In addition to the language, we also reached out to CPD to explain what this language meant. I could go on and on about how CPD interprets bike laws, but this language does make it harder for police officers to target people at bike racks and Divvy stations (like sit there and write tickets.)

And by the way, I'm happy to answer any questions people have about this topic or related topics, but as I was not a city employee or a sworn officer in CPD, there's some information I just don't have.



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