Safe Bicycling in Chicago,x-default

Safe Bicycling in Chicago,x-default
What
Equipment
Do You Need?
Chapter 1, page 4
How
to Find Repair
Problems?
Chapter 2, page 5
How
to Lock Your
Bike?
Chapter 3, page 7
SAFE BICYCLING
Why Do You
Need a
Helmet?
Chapter 4, page 9
What's the
Law About
Bikes?
Chapter 5, page 11
Where on the
Street Should
You Ride?
Chapter 6, page 15
How to
Handle
Attacks?
Chapter 7, page 23
How to
Ride on the
Lakefront Path?
Chapter 8, page 27
How to
Dress for
Cold & Rain?
Chapter 9, page 31
IN CHICAGO
A MESSAGE FROM
A CYCLIST: MAYOR
RICHARD M. DALEY
How to Use
This Booklet
How should you use this
booklet? First, look at the
subjects listed on the
front cover. You’ll see
what page to turn to for
that information.
If you want other information about how to bike
safely in Illinois, read the
Table of Contents. There,
we’ve listed everything
this booklet covers. If
you can’t find what you
want, check the list of
bicyclists’ resources on
the inside back cover.
This booklet is intended
for bicyclists above 12
years of age. Parents and
teachers can use the
booklet to teach younger
cyclists how to bike
safely.
If you have questions or
comments, please call the
Chicagoland Bicycle
Federation at
312/42-PEDAL.
We bicyclists have a pretty good idea of the
benefits of bicycling. We know that bicycling is
an energy-efficient form of transportation that has
the potential to improve air quality and alleviate
the traffic congestion that all big cities face.
Besides, we know bicycling is a healthful form of
recreation.
That’s why, in 1991, I asked bicyclists, business
people, environmentalists, and city officials to
begin working together to attract more Chicagoans
to bicycling. One of the first tasks of this group,
the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council, was to recommend ways to improve conditions for bicycling
in Chicago.
We named these recommendations the Bike
2000 Plan. The Bike 2000 Plan and its successor,
the Bike 2010 Plan, guide us as we continually
improve Chicago’s bike-friendliness. Our dozens
of miles of bikeways and thousands of bike-parking racks are some of the most visible parts of our
efforts.
But our world-class bicycling program is more
than metal and concrete. It includes things such as
this booklet to help bicyclists grasp the importance
of safety.
Safety starts with the simple fact that poor
cycling skills cause many bicycling injuries. This
booklet tells you how to bicycle better in Chicago,
so you can reach your destination enjoyably and
without mishap.
Sincerely,
Mayor
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Message from Mayor
Richard Daley ..........inside front cover
How to Use
This Booklet ............inside front cover
1: Fitting &
Equipping Your Bike
How to Get a Good Fit ......................2
Frame Size .........................................2
Seat Height ........................................2
Basic Equipment................................4
2: Quick
Maintenance Checks .....5
3: Where to
Park Your Bike
Parking and Locking Basics ..............6
What Hardware Should You Use? .....6
How to Lock Up ................................7
Where to Park ....................................7
Cutting Your Theft Losses .................8
Turning Left from a
Left-Turn Lane ...........................18
Turning Left with No
Left-Turn Lane ...........................19
The Box Left Turn ...........................19
Stops and Turns on Red ...................20
Three-Way Intersection....................20
Passing .............................................20
Squeezing between Cars ..................21
Passing Buses...................................21
7: Trouble
Situations
Emergency Moves............................22
How to Fall ......................................22
Dogs .................................................23
Pedestrians .......................................23
Railroads ..........................................23
Assault .............................................24
Conflicts with Motorists ..................24
What to Do after a
Traffic Collision .........................25
8: Off-Street
Bicycling
The Basics of Using Paths...............26
Riding the Lakefront Path ...............27
4: All About
Bike Helmets
5: Traffic Basics
Riding Predictably ...........................11
Traffic Rules for Cyclists ................11
How to Learn Traffic Skills.............12
Communicating................................13
Picking Your Route ..........................14
6: Lane Positions,
Turning, & Passing
Basic Lane Positions........................15
Intersections and Turns ....................17
9: Riding at Night
& in Bad Weather
How to Be Seen at Night .................29
Riding at Night ................................30
Riding in Rain and Snow.................30
Dressing for Cold and
Wet Weather................................31
Equipping You and Your Bike for
Rain and Snow............................32
IN CHICAGO
Why Should You Wear a Helmet?......9
Basic Helmet Types ...........................9
What to Look for in Helmets.............9
Comfort and Cost ............................10
Why Kids Need Helmets .................10
Bicyclists’ Resources
........................inside back cover
Motorists’ Advisory
...................................back cover
SAFE BICYCLING
1
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1: FITTING & EQUIPPING YOUR BIKE
3"
2"
SAFE BICYCLING
2
IN CHICAGO
HOW TO GET A GOOD FIT
Your bike’s most important safety feature is you:
If you’re not comfortable, you’re more likely to ride
badly and hit something. Getting exactly the right
fit depends on many things—including your height,
weight, and riding style. You should contact your
neighborhood bicycle store to help you find the
right fit. Consider these points.
Frame Size: If your bike’s frame is too tall,
too short, or too long, it’s very hard to adjust other
things to make you comfortable—so you might
need a new bike.
To Check the Height: On a men’s
bike, stand with the bike between your legs, just in
front of the seat. Measure the space between the top
tube and your crotch. ➊ For road or street riding, a
one-inch to three-inch space is safest. (Off-road riding might require a bigger space.) For women’s
frames, ask your bicycle store’s staff to size you.
Frame Length: If, when you ride, you feel
overly stretched or have pain in your neck, shoulders, or back, your frame might be too long. Try
moving the seat and handlebars closer together (see
page 3). Also, some people—including many women—have torsos shorter than what most bikes are
made for. If you’re one of them, look into a shorter
handlebar stem extension, a taller stem, different
handlebars, or a custom bike made for people with
smaller torsos.
Seat Height: A seat that’s too low will
strain your knees, while a seat that’s too high will
make it hard for you to pedal and to put your foot
onto the ground. Here are some ways to get the
right seat height for most riding:
Sit on your bike and push one pedal all the way
down. ➋ Put the ball of your foot on the pedal.
If your seat’s high enough, your knee should be
slightly bent.
If your hips rock from side to side when you
pedal, your seat’s too high.
Don’t raise your seat so high that less than three
inches of your seat post extends into the
frame. ➌ (Most seat posts have a mark
showing how high you can raise them.) If you
have to raise your seat higher, consider getting a
longer seat post, or a taller bicycle.
FIT
&
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Handlebars: After you’ve set your seat
height, set your handlebars so you feel comfortable.
Some things to guide you:
Start by raising or lowering your handlebars so
they block your view of the front axle when
you’re sitting on your bike with your hands
on the handlebars. ➍ In this position, your
elbows should be slightly bent (not locked).
Lower-back pain often means the handlebars are
too far away, while upper-arm or shoulder fatigue
often means the handlebars are too close to you.
Try raising or lowering the handlebars, or moving
your seat forward or backward. ➎ You can
also change to a shorter or longer handlebar stem.
Don’t raise your handlebars so high that less than
two and a half inches of your handlebar stem
extends into the frame. ➏ (Most stems have a
mark showing how high you can raise them.) If
you have to raise your handlebars higher than the
safe limit, get a longer stem or stem extender.
Rotate your handlebars so that they put even
pressure across the palms of your hands without
bending your wrists in a strange way. ➐
U
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M
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Seat Tilt: Last, adjust your seat tilt for
Saddle Soreness: If you haven’t bicycled
in a while, expect to be sore at first; chafing or soreness should get better with time. If it doesn’t, the
first thing to check is the seat adjustment; see “Seat
Tilt” above, and “Seat Height” on page 2. If adjustment doesn’t help, try alternatives: a gel-filled
saddle or saddle pad; a wider or differently-shaped
saddle; one with springs; or one made specifically
for women. Many bicycle stores will exchange
saddles if they’re not damaged, so try alternatives
until you’re comfortable. Also, many cyclists like
padded and/or seamless shorts for long rides.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
For help on fitting a bike:
See Urban Bikers’Tricks & Tips, by Dave Glowacz.
Available at book stores, by calling 800-888-4741,
or on-line at www.askmrbike.com.
21/2"
IN CHICAGO
comfort: Many cyclists keep their seats level. Many
women, however, tilt them nose-down, and many
men tilt them nose-up. Try different angles until you
find a comfortable one.
SAFE BICYCLING
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SAFE BICYCLING
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IN CHICAGO
BASIC EQUIPMENT
Experienced cyclists have a few simple ideas about
equipment that make biking a lot safer—and easier.
Here’s what they recommend.
Helmet: A must in the city! See page 9 for
details.
Flat Fixer: To prevent flats: ➊ Keep your
tires at maximum air pressure; they lose a little air
every day. Skinnier tires lose air more quickly. Many
cyclists use puncture-proof tire liners (like Mr. Tuffy),
Kevlar-belted tires, thorn-resistant tubes, or tube
sealants. Heavy-set or rough-surface riders should try
wider tires. To fix flats: Always carry a spare inner
tube or a patch kit, and tools to get your tube out. Use
tire levers (best) or a screwdriver (not as good); a
wrench if you don’t have quick-release hubs; an old
sock or rag to cover your hand when you grab your
chain; and a hand pump or a quarter to pay for a gasstation pump. (Beware: high-pressure pumps can
explode your tire!)
Carrying Rack: Make your bike carry your
things! ➋ Use bungee cords to tie things to your carrying rack. Attach a milk crate as a carrying case. If
you carry things often you should invest in panniers,
or the many varieties of bike bags available.
Instead of a rear rack or front basket, you can use a
backpack. However, a backpack can strain your shoulders and make balancing harder. And carrying stuff in
your arm is unsafe; it’s harder to steer and brake.
Toe Clips: Toe clips give your pedaling more
power. But if they’re not adjusted right, the clips can
lock your feet to your pedals so you can’t put a foot
down when you lose your balance. When using toe
clips, make sure you can get your feet out of them fast.
Ankle Strap: Getting your pants caught in
your chain can make you lose control and ruin your
pants. If your bike doesn’t have a chain guard, use a
clip or Velcro strap ➌ around your pants cuff to keep
it from hitting your chain and frame.
Sunglasses or Goggles: To protect
your eyes from bugs and airborne debris, wear sunglasses or clear goggles, especially with contact lenses.
Wrap-around glasses are best. If your glasses steam up
in cold weather, apply an anti-fogger. (Some cyclists
use a light coating of gel toothpaste.)
Night and Foul Weather Gear: If
you ride at night or in bad weather you need lights, reflectors, and more. See pages 29-32 for details.
RE
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2: QUICK MAINTENANCE CHECKS
C
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Safety starts with your bike. Whether you use your bike a lot or you’re dusting off an
old bike, this page gives you a few simple things to check for a safe ride. While these
checks help you find problems, we don’t have room to tell you how to fix them all.
If you need help, go to your owner’s manual, a maintenance book, or a bike shop.
➐
➎
➏
➋
➌
➐
➍
➍
➊
Air: Tires lose a little air every day. If your
gauge says a tire is more than five pounds under
the needed pressure (printed on the side of the
✓ tire), add air. No gauge? Push each tire hard
against a curb. If you can flatten it, add air.
➋ Chain: A dry chain can skip, lock up, or
break suddenly. If your chain squeaks or hangs
up, lubricate it. Oil will do, but it attracts dirt;
✓ a greaseless chain lubricant’s best. To
lubricate:
a. Grab the bottom of the chain loosely with a
lint-free rag. With the other hand turn the pedals
backward, sliding the chain through the rag. Pedal
the chain around twice to remove grime.
b. With one hand squeeze or spray lubricant
onto the chain, and with the other hand pedal the
chain backward so it goes completely around
once (twice if really rusty).
c. Repeat step (a) to get the excess lubricant off
the chain. Extra lube can attract dirt.
➌ Wheel Spin: Lift each wheel up and
give it a slow spin. (Spin the back wheel forward
so the pedals don’t move.) Check that it does✓ n’t rub against the brake pads, frame, or something else. If the wheel doesn’t spin freely but
it’s not rubbing, the problem might be inside the
axle.
➍ Tires: Turn each wheel very slowly and
look for big cuts, bulges, bubbles, or places you
can see the inner casing. If you spot any, replace
the tire. Remove glass or other debris. If the
valve stem doesn’t point straight at the middle of
the wheel, the rim might cut it; let the air out and
straighten the valve.
➎ Shifting: Try all of your gears, shifting
each gear lever from high to low. You have a
problem if the lever sticks, you can’t shift to all
gears, the chain rubs the derailleur, or the chain
jumps off the gears. These are usually caused by
worn or dirty cables, or a derailleur that needs
cleaning or adjustment.
➏ Handlebars: Hold the front tire between your legs and try to turn the handlebars.
If they’re loose, tighten the stem bolt.
➐ Brakes: You should have your brakes
adjusted or replaced if you have any of these
problems: (a) when you apply the brake on
✓ each wheel, one or both brake pads don’t
touch the rim; (b) you can squeeze your brake
lever all the way to the handlebars; (c) on each
wheel, the brake can’t stop the tire from moving
on dry, clean pavement.
Loose Parts: Pick up the bike and shake
it hard. Check and fix anything that rattles.
SOME GOOD BOOKS ON BIKE REPAIR
Anybody’s Bike Book, by Tom Cuthbertson
Bicycling Magazine’s Basic Maintenance
and Repair, by the Editors of Bicycling magazine
On the Road Guide to Bicycle Maintenance,
by Eugene A. Sloane
Roadside Bicycle Repairs, by Rob Van der Plas
✓
Check
each time
you ride!
IN CHICAGO
➊
SAFE BICYCLING
5
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3: WHERE TO PARK YOUR BIKE
˜
SAFE BICYCLING
6
IN CHICAGO
PARKING & LOCKING
BASICS
The first rule: Always lock it. Never, never leave
your bike unlocked—even if you’re leaving it for
only half a minute. A thief can grab your bike in
seconds. Some parking basics:
Security: Lock your bike to something that’s
permanent and not easy for a thief to take. Lock
to a bicycle rack, a parking meter, a metal fence
post, or a large tree. Don’t lock to another bike, a
door handle, or small tree. And if you keep your
bike in a garage, basement, or on a porch, lock it.
Visibility: Park in open areas where many
people pass by and your bicycle can be seen easily.
➊ Thieves usually don’t like an audience.
Keep It Close By: Put your bike where
you can get to it fast. ➋ Thieves like to steal
bikes whose owners are far away.
WHAT LOCKING HARDWARE
SHOULD YOU USE?
U Locks: Some U locks are stronger than
others; make sure you buy a strong steel-alloy
lock. ➌ If the manufacturer offers a warranty or
insurance, register the lock and write down the
lock’s serial number and when you bought it. For
added protection, get one or more U-lock cuffs
(such as Bad Bones); they can keep thieves from
using a lever to pry open your lock. One drawback
to U locks: you can’t lock up to thick objects such
as street lights; for these, carry a thick cable.
Padlocks & Chains: The thicker, the
better; chain links and lock clasps should be at
least 3/8 of an inch thick. Look for locks and
chains that are case-hardened—a process that
makes them harder to cut.
Cables: Some cables are actually harder to cut
than chains, because they don’t snap and thieves
can’t pry them open. ➍ Use a cable at least 3/8
of an inch thick with a lock as thick, or thicker.
Ugly Bikes: In busy commercial areas,
where thieves have lots of bikes to choose from,
your bike is less likely to be stolen if it looks old
or just ugly.
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IN CHICAGO
WHERE TO PARK
Parking Meters: Lock your bike to a
parking meter if you’re using a U lock. ➎ Never
lock to a meter with only a chain or cable—a thief
will slide your bike over the top.
Bike Racks: The City of Chicago and building owners have installed thousands of ribbonshaped racks ➐ and upside-down-U-shaped racks,
❽ which are very secure places to park your bike.
Sign Poles: Sign poles aren’t the best places
to lock your bike. Before locking to a pole, check
whether you can pull it out of the ground. Also
check how easily a thief could remove the sign and
slide your bike over the top of the pole.
K
HOW TO LOCK UP
A thief with enough time and the right tools can
break any lock. But you can discourage many
thieves if you follow these tips about locking your
bike:
Lock the Whole Bike: You should put
your chain, cable, or U locks through your frame
and both wheels—taking the front wheel off if you
have a quick-release hub. ➎ Never lock through
your wheel without locking the frame, because
thieves can remove your wheel and steal the rest of
the bike.
Cross Locking: A good way to foil thieves
is to use more than one kind of lock. ➏ For example, put a U lock through your frame and front tire,
and put a cable or chain through your frame and
both tires.
Placing the Lock: Thieves can break a
lock by putting it against a wall or sidewalk and
smashing it with a hammer. If you use a padlock,
try to put it where it’s not close to the ground or
against a wall or another solid surface—leaving
little or no slack in your cable or chain. When using
a U lock, leave little or no space in the lock’s
middle to prevent prying.
Removable Items: When you leave
your bike, remove any parts you can’t lock and a
thief could steal easily: a quick-release seat, horn,
bike bag, pump, cycle computer, or lights. If
removing quick-release parts is a hassle, replace
them with permanent ones.
SAFE BICYCLING
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WHERE SERIAL NUMBERS MAY BE FOUND
SAFE BICYCLING
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IN CHICAGO
Parking Lots: Some public parking lots
will let you park your bike for a small fee. If you
forget your lock, look for an attended parking lot.
Indoors: A good way to avoid theft: park
your bike indoors. Some stores and buildings
allow bikes inside, if only for a short time. When
parking indoors, lock your bike securely.
CUTTING YOUR THEFT
LOSSES
What’s the first thing to do when you get a new
bike? Write down its serial number and register
your bike with the Chicago police. Police recover
hundreds of stolen bikes each year, but can’t return
most because they aren’t registered. To register, fill
out and mail a white registration card. ➊ You can
get a card at any police station (see the phone
book’s blue pages), most bike shops, and the
Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, Room 300, 650 S.
Clark St. (Call 312/742-BIKE to have one sent to
you.) Or register on-line at
http://w4.ci.chi.il.us/CommunityPolicing/FightCrime/
Forms/BicycleReg.html.
Identifying Marks: You can discourage
thieves by engraving your name or social security
number in an obvious place on your bike frame.➋
Or put a card with your name and phone number
inside the handlebar tube—so if you find your
stolen bike at an auction, junk shop, or flea market,
you can prove it’s yours.
If Your Bike Is Stolen: First, find
your bike’s serial number if you have it. Then call
the Chicago police non-emergency number, 311,
and tell them where your bike was stolen. You also
must give a call-back phone number. Police will
call you with a report number that you can use for
an insurance claim. They’ll call again if they find
your bike.
Police Bike Auctions: Every month
except January and February, the Chicago Police
auction off stolen bikes that they’ve recovered. ➌
The auctions are announced in the Tribune and
Sun-Times; call 312/747-6224 for the time and
place of the next one. But if you find your stolen
bike at an auction, the police won’t give it to you
unless you can prove that it’s yours.
LM
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4: ALL ABOUT BIKE HELMETS
A
WHY SHOULD YOU WEAR A
HELMET?
It’s a fact: About 1,000 American bicyclists die in
crashes each year—and around three-fourths die
from head injuries. Hundreds more suffer permanent brain damage. Many of these are experienced,
careful riders—maybe just like you. And most of
these head injuries can be prevented with bike
helmets.
You say a helmet’s too much of a hassle? It’d
make your head sweat? Give you “hat head?” It’s
too expensive? You’d look like a geek? ➍ Think
how good these sayings would look on your gravestone.
D
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BASIC HELMET TYPES
Helmets consist of a foam core, usually white or
black in color, and most have a thin plastic shell
(sometimes called a "micro-shell") that covers the
core. ➎ Some cheaper helmets come without the
shell, with the foam core exposed—or with a cloth
or nylon covering. ➏ A plastic shell keeps the helmet’s base from getting scratched and nicked. So
you should always get a helmet that has a plastic
shell.
If you have a crash and your helmet takes an
impact, replace it right away. An impact usually
damages a helmet’s foam core, meaning it won’t
protect you again. You should also replace your
helmet at least every five years, because its foam
core becomes brittle.
ASTM
F1447
IN CHICAGO
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN
HELMETS
Rating: Rating: Look at the inside of the helmet. It should have one of these: ➐ a green or
blue Snell sticker, meaning the helmet passed the
Snell Foundation’s tests for safety; ❽ an F1447
certification label by the American Society for
Testing and Materials (ASTM); or a compliance
label from the U.S. Consumer Products Safety
Commission (CPSC).
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Fit: You must have a good fit. A snug fit means
that if your head hits more than once, the helmet stays
in place. Most brands of adult helmets come in two
or three sizes, and you make them fit by adjusting the
chin strap and putting foam pads around the inside.
Don’t wear your helmet tilted back. It won’t
protect your skull in a frontal impact.
➊ Right ➋ Wrong
How To Check For A Good Fit
a. The helmet sits level on your head.
b. You can’t easily shift the helmet to the
front, back, or sides of your head.
c. With the strap tight, you can’t possibly get
the helmet off.
If the helmet fails these, adjust the straps, put in
bigger pads, or try another size.
SAFE BICYCLING
10
COMFORT AND COST
Cost: You can get a good CPSC-rated bike helmet
for about $30—cheaper than a visit to the emergency
room. Hard shells cost a little more than soft. More
costly helmets usually aren’t much safer, but they
have better ventilation, weigh less, and look cool. If
you order a helmet from a disccount catalog, first
find a friend who has it and try it on—because a
good fit is important to protect your head.
Ventilation: A helmet’s ventilation depends
on front-to-back air flow. ➌ Good air flow comes
from long, wide air vents and air passages (or
troughs) between the vents. (Bald, light-skinned cyclists beware: big vents can cause weird tan lines!)
Weight: Cheaper helmets usually aren’t much
heavier than expensive ones—and most cyclists
adjust to them easily. If you think you need an ultralight helmet, test-ride a regular one to make sure.
Look: You can pay a lot of money for style. But
even a low-cost helmet can look cool with an elastic
helmet cover. And don’t be fooled: No matter how
aerodynamic a helmet looks, it won’t help you go
faster unless you’re moving at warp speed. ➍
IN CHICAGO
WHY KIDS NEED HELMETS
Kids need helmets as much as adults do. Kids generally aren’t as careful, they don’t know how to protect
themselves, and when riding in a child seat they’re
especially vulnerable. Make sure kids wear their helmets snugly—and set an example by wearing yours!
TR
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5: TRAFFIC BASICS
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TRAFFIC RULES FOR CYCLISTS
You probably know that a red light means “stop.” ➏
But as the driver of a vehicle, you must know and
obey all of Chicago’s traffic signals and pavement
markings. Read “Rules of the Road,” a free booklet
from the Secretary of State. You can get a copy at
any driver’s license test office, or have one mailed
by calling 800/252-8980
Messengers: Chicago has other rules that
apply only to bike messengers working downtown
(messengers must wear helmets and display identification). To learn more, call the Department of
Consumer Services at 312/744-6227.
Right of Way: “Right of way” means permission to go ahead of somebody else. As the driver
of a vehicle, you must give right of way in the same
situations that motorists do. If you don’t know when
IN CHICAGO
RIDING PREDICTABLY
On the street, most motorists follow the same traffic
rules. Traffic flows smoothly because all the drivers
can predict what each other will do. A collision happens only when someone does something abnormal.
When you’re on a bike in the middle of all those
cars, it’s easy to defy traffic rules; you can maneuver
better, and almost no one will stop you. This is how
most bicyclists get into collisions. When you break
traffic laws motorists never know what you’ll do
next, so they’re not sure how to avoid you. But if
you act like the operator of a vehicle—signaling
turns, turning from the correct lanes, and stopping at
red lights—drivers can predict what you’ll do.
Being predictable is the key to safe bicycling
on Chicago streets. And if you follow traffic rules,
motorists will come to respect bicyclists as drivers
of vehicles—which is exactly what Chicago and
Illinois laws say bicyclists are. ➎ (See the back
cover for details.)
Here are the basic rules for riding predictably:
Get Smart: Know the traffic rules you should
follow and when others should yield to you.
See “Traffic Rules for Cyclists,” below
Be Confident:: Learn riding skills so you
don’t hesitate in traffic, and always be courteous.
See “How to Learn Traffic Skills,” page 12.
Communicate: Make eye contact, signal
your moves, and wave when someone yields. See
“Communicating,” page 13.
SAFE BICYCLING
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to yield to pedestrians and other vehicles, read
“Rules of the Road.”
Sidewalks: Chicago law says if you’re more
than 11 years old, you should not ride on a sidewalk
unless it’s marked as a bike route. If you do use a
sidewalk, you should walk your bike ➊—even
where you might feel tempted to bicycle, as on
Sheridan Road north of Hollywood. ➋
Roads to Avoid: It’s against the law to
ride your bike on Lake Shore Drive. It’s also illegal
to ride the wrong way on a one-way street, against
traffic on a two-way street, and on expressways.
What Police Will Do: ➌ If you break
a traffic law, an officer might stop and warn you. But
for something serious—like a collision or a violation
of bike-messenger rules—police can give you a traffic ticket (most bicycling fines are $25). If you don’t
have I.D. or bond money, you can end up in a police
station, calling someone to post your bond.
What happens when police stop you for the wrong
reason? If you have this book, politely show the officer the part you think proves your point. If gentle persuasion doesn’t work, make your case in court.
HOW TO LEARN TRAFFIC
SKILLS
With practice, every adult can bicycle comfortably in
Chicago’s traffic. If you feel scared to try, practice
by riding on quiet side streets or in parking lots. ➍
Then practice on major streets early on Saturday and
Sunday mornings. Below, we’ve listed a few skills
that’ll help you ride in traffic safely.
Look Behind You! To bike in traffic you
must know how to look back over your shoulder
while riding. This simple act helps you move left or
right quickly—to avoid hazards, change lanes, or
make a turn. And looking over your shoulder helps
drivers pay attention to you. Even if you have a mirror, you should always turn your head to look before
you move left or right—just as you’d do in a car.
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How to Practice Looking Back:
IN CHICAGO
Here’s how to learn to look back without swerving or
slowing down.
a. Find a parking lot or wide, quiet street with
some kind of lane stripe.
b. Ride along the lane stripe in a straight line.
c. Keeping your left shoulder steady, turn your head
down and around to the left. Try to keep your
arms steady so your bike moves straight. Then
turn your head forward.
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d. Turn your head back again, but this time pick
out something to look at. ➎ Try to keep
moving straight. Then turn your head forward.
e. If you can’t turn your head without turning your
handlebars, it should help to drop your left hand
to your thigh while you turn your head.
f. Next, practice turning your head right. Then
practice turning your head while moving faster.
Where to Look: As you ride you have to
avoid two kinds of things: hazards on the ground
right in front of you, and cars and pedestrians ahead
and on either side. You should always know how
both the ground and the traffic around you look.
To do this, get into the habit of looking first at the
ground 20 to 30 feet in front of you, then up at traffic, then back down at the ground. ➏ At first
this’ll seem hard—maybe even strange—but with
practice you’ll do it without thinking.
Ready for a Brake: Always keep your
hands near or over your brake levers—so you can
stop fast in a pinch. When you brake, squeeze the
front and back brakes at the same time. (To learn
more, see “The Quick Slow-Down” on page 22.)
Shifting Gears: If your bicycle has a gear
system, know how to shift without looking down.
Always pedal when shifting, no matter how slowly.
Learn shifting from a friend or a bike shop.
COMMUNICATING
Bikes are slower, quieter, and less visible than most
other vehicles. So you should make drivers notice
you, and try to communicate
LEFT
SLOW/STOP
with them. And because a lot of
bicyclists don’t follow traffic
laws, drivers don’t always know
what you’ll do—even if you
think it’s obvious. Here are
some ways to communicate.
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Whenever you change lanes or
➐
turn, signal with your arm. ➐
If you’re about to move in an
unexpected way—like around a bunch of glass—point
to the part of the road you’re moving to. Also signal
when slowing down—you don’t have brake lights! The
law says you must signal 100 feet before making a
turn, so you might have to signal while shifting and
braking—but don’t do it if you’ll lose control. You can
yell your intentions, but remember that noisy traffic
might prevent others from hearing you.
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Use Hand Signals:
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Yielding: When you’re waiting for a car to
pass you before you cross an intersection or change
lanes, the driver might not realize you’re yielding.
Wave at the driver to go ahead. Also, when drivers
correctly yield the right of way, it’s a good idea to
thank them by waving or nodding.
Pretend You’re Invisible: In some
situations—like a car turning in front of you—it’s a
good idea to pretend the driver doesn’t see you.
Know in advance how you’ll avoid that driver. Can
you stop in time? If not, slow down or plan how
you’d steer out of the way.
How to decide whether a driver sees you:
Watch for the car to move slower than it would if
you weren’t there.
Look at where the driver’s eyes are. ➊ If they’re
not looking at you, slow down and be ready to get
out of the way.
Make Noise: Just as a car honks its horn
when it comes out of an alley, you should make noise
when you emerge from places where people can’t see
you—like when you emerge from between two
vehicles to get into an intersection. ➋ Use a horn,
bell, or whistle, or yell if you have to.
Headphones: Don’t wear them! As a bicyclist in traffic, you can hear more of what’s going on
around you than motorists can. In fact, people you
share the road with expect you to hear their engines,
horns, or shouted warnings. If you wear headphones
you might not hear something that can help you
avoid a crash.
BIKES ON THE CTA
You can take your bike on all CTA trains seven days
a week—except for rush hours and a couple of holidays. ➌ You can also put your bike on the front of
CTA buses that have bike-carrying racks. For more
info, call 888/YOUR-CTA or go to www.transitchicago.com.
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IN CHICAGO
USING THE MAP
Before you ride, decide which streets to take to your
destination. Think about road construction, rushhour traffic jams, and areas with bad pavement. Use
the Chicago Bike Map (see “Bicyclists’ Resources”)
to pick your route. ➍
A word of caution: Know the neighborhoods you
ride in; the map doesn’t tell you where crime might
be a problem. Before you bicycle in an unfamiliar
place, talk to someone who knows the area.
6: LANE POSITIONS, TURNING,
& PASSING
BASIC LANE POSITIONS
Traffic law says that slower vehicles should stay to
the right. But where exactly should bicycles ride?
Here are some basics.
Never Ride Against Traffic: If you
feel safer riding against traffic because you can see
cars coming, you are wrong: Twenty percent of all
car-bike collisions result from cyclists going the
wrong way. Drivers moving down a street—and
drivers turning onto the street—don’t look for vehicles coming at them in their lane. And if they hit
you, it’ll be much harder head-on than from behind.
When to Stay Right: Stay right if
you’re moving slow compared to traffic, but remember: the farther from the curb you ride, the better
motorists can see you—whether they’re in your lane,
oncoming, or on cross streets. ➎ Riding closer to
traffic keeps cars from passing you on the left and
then turning right immediately in front of you.
NO
➏
It’s safest to ride in the middle of the lane when: (a)
You’re moving at the speed of traffic; (b) the lane’s
too small for cars to pass you safely; (c) you’re
avoiding potholes or the doors of parked cars. If
you’re riding in the middle and traffic starts to move
faster than you can, move toward the curb if there’s
room. Some special cases:
Dangerous Areas: If you come to a
dangerous area—like a bend in the road that you
can’t see beyond—ride in the middle of the lane to
be more visible.
El Tracks: Ride in the middle on streets
underneath elevated CTA train tracks, ➐ where the
metal track supports make it hard to avoid opening
car doors and crossing pedestrians. Under the el
tracks, ride on the inside of the supports, not on the
curb side. Motorists behind you might get impatient,
so communicate with them by using the “slow” arm
signal (see page 13).
Bus Lanes: The law prohibits biking in bus
lanes. But if you must use a bus lane, ride in the
middle so buses don’t squeeze you into the curb. If
you block buses for too long, you should use another
lane.
Parked Cars: Don’t weave in and out of
parked cars, because you’ll confuse drivers; ride in a
straight line. ❽ Ride at least four feet away so you
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When to Ride In the Middle:
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don’t get hit if someone opens their door. And if a
car door starts to open into you, yell and brake;
swerve out of the way only if you have enough room.
Bikeways: Chicago has two kinds of on-street
bikeways: ➊ Striped bike lanes and ➋ marked,
unstriped bike routes. Where bike lanes appear
beside parked cars, ride on the left side of the bike
lane—so you don’t get hit by opening doors. If you
find a parked vehicle in the bike lane: Check back
behind you for traffic, signal if you can, then pass the
vehicle on its left. Pass far enough away so you don’t
get hit by an opening door. Report motorists parking
or driving in bike lanes to police by calling 311. In
bike routes, ride just to the right of car traffic as
described in “When to Stay Right” on page 15.
Riding with Others:
Illinois law says that in traffic no more than two
cyclists may ride side-by-side. If you ride next to
someone, don’t block cars or bikes that want to
pass you.
When another cyclist turns or changes lanes,
don’t assume it’s safe for you to do the same.
Always look behind you before you make a move.
When you’re with a group stopped at a light, line
up single file so you don’t block or slow other
vehicles.
Blind Spots: To be safe, know where a
driver’s blind spots are—and stay out of them! ➌
Don’t follow a vehicle so closely that you can’t
see potholes or other pavement problems until
you’re on top of them. ➍
If you’re following a large vehicle—like a van,
truck, or bus—don’t follow so closely that it blocks
your field of vision. ➎
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IN CHICAGO
Big vehicles coming at you can hide other cars.
Slow down or don’t proceed until they get out of
your line of sight. ➏
INTERSECTIONS AND TURNS
Almost half of car-bike collisions in the city happen at intersections. This section tells you the safest places to put yourself when you reach an intersection, whether you’re turning or going straight.
Things to Remember at
Intersections:
When you’re about to cross an intersection,
don’t veer to the left or right. Try to move in
the straightest possible line to where you’ll ride
on the other side. ➐
Don’t block crosswalks. It’s dangerous to make
pedestrians cross farther into the intersection.
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Changing Lanes Before
a Turn:
When
you’re turning left on a multi-lane street
where traffic isn’t much faster than you, merge
left one lane at a time. ➑
Where traffic moves much faster, drivers won’t
have time to react to you—so it’s safest to wait
for a gap in traffic and move across all the lanes
at once. ❾
YES
IN CHICAGO
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Turning Left from a Left-turn
Lane: Follow these steps for making left turns
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just like cars do.
From the right side of the street, look behind
you for a gap in traffic. ➊ Start looking a halfblock or more before the intersection.
When traffic allows, signal left and change
lanes. ➋ If you can’t find a gap and you’re
sure of your skills, get a driver to let you in by
making eye contact and pointing. Don’t change
lanes until you’re sure the driver will yield!
Go to the middle of the left-turn lane. ➌ If
there’s more than one turn lane, use the one
farthest to the right—unless you’re making
another left turn immediately.
If there’s a car already waiting to turn left, get
behind it. ➍ (Never put yourself next to a car
in the same turn lane!) Don’t be afraid of
oncoming cars that are stopped facing you, waiting to turn left.
Turn just like a car does. ➎ After the turn,
move into the right lane—unless another
vehicle is there or you’re making another left
turn immediately.
➊
➋
➌
➍
➎
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IN CHICAGO
Turning Left with No Left-turn
Lane: If there’s no turn lane, ride about four feet
from the center stripe—far enough out so a
left-turning car behind you can’t pass until you’ve
finished the turn. ➏
If a car’s stopped at the intersection and you can’t
tell whether it’s going to turn left, don’t try to pass
it on the left. Stay behind it until it gets through the
intersection.
When turning left from one one-way street to
another, you can turn into the left or right side of the
street. ➐ In this case, Chicago law allows “left
turn on red”: you can make a left turn after stopping
at a red light and yielding to vehicles on the cross
street.
The Box Left Turn: Use the box left turn
if you can’t merge left before you reach the intersection. ➑ Here’s how:
a. Stay in the right lane and ride across the intersection on the left side of (not in) the crosswalk.
b. Just before the opposite corner, check whether
there’s room for you in the
traffic lane to the right
of the crosswalk, behind
the stop line. If there is,
go there and align yourself with traffic.
c. If there’s no room behind
the stop line, stop on
the intersection side of
the crosswalk and align
yourself with traffic.
d. When the traffic light
changes, move with traffic.
d.
d.
b.
b.
c.
c.
a.
a.
IN CHICAGO
➑
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Stop Signs and Turns on Red: At
a stop sign or right turn on red, the law says you
must stop—not just slow down. ➊ Remember to
behave as a vehicle operator as follows.
If you’re at a stop sign and a vehicle on the cross
street got there first, let it go through first.
If you’re turning on red, yield to any vehicles
coming at you in your lane.
Don’t Veer to the Curb: Don’t veer
into the right-turn lane as you go through the intersection. ➋ You’re easier to see if you stay away
from the curb. And you won’t have to move back
over when you get across the intersection.
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STOP
HERE
ON
RED
Cars Stopped in Both Lanes: ➌
a. When cars are stopped in the left and right lanes,
it’s safest to stop in the middle of the right lane.
b. But if the right-lane car is turning right and
you’re sure of your traffic skills, stop on the left
side of the right lane. Stop where drivers on both
sides can see you.
Right on Red Allowed: At a red light
where right turn on red is
allowed, stop on the left
side of the right lane—leaving enough room for other
right-turning cars. ➍ If a
car’s stopped in the left lane,
stop where drivers in both
lanes can see you.
Three-way
Intersection: At a
red light in a three-way intersection, stop on the
street you’re traveling on. ➎ Don’t cross the diagonal street to wait on the next corner, because you’ll
confuse drivers about which way you’re really going.
NO
YES
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IN CHICAGO
PASSING
In most cases you should pass cars in your lane as
you would if driving a car: look behind you, signal
left, get into the left lane, and pass. Here are some
things to remember about passing:
Pass Left: Pass moving cars on the left when
you can. That’s where motorists expect you to pass,
so that’s where they look.
Don’t Pass on Turn Side: If a vehicle is
about to turn, don’t pass it on the side it’s turning toward.
Opening Doors: When you pass a stopped
car, watch out for the driver or a passenger opening
their door. Pass three feet from the car, or pass on
the side with no passengers.
Cars Speeding Up: If you’re passing a
car and it speeds up, stay in your lane and slow down.
After the car passes you, look back, signal, then
merge back behind the car.
Squeezing between Cars: ➏ Say
you’re in a traffic jam with cars backed up for at least
a block. It’s safest (and most legal) to get into line with
the cars and wait it out. But if you do squeeze between
the cars to get through, here’s what to watch out for:
A car door can open in front of you, on the left or
right, at any time. Look inside cars for passengers
who might get out. Keep your hands on your brake
levers.
When pedestrians cross the street in the middle of
a traffic jam, the last thing they expect is you
zooming down on them between the cars. Watch
out for pedestrians, especially when passing trucks
or buses that you can’t see in front of.
If a space opens up in the traffic jam—and you’re
near a driveway or cross street—watch for a car
from the opposite direction turning into your path.
YES
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Here are a few tips for passing
buses at intersections or bus stops:
When you come to a bus that’s
nearing or stopped at a bus stop,
don’t pass on the right. ➐
You might get squeezed into
the curb or hit a passenger.
When you pass on the left of a
bus with its rear stuck out in
traffic, look around carefully. And pass the front of
the bus with plenty of room in case it pulls out
suddenly.
Don’t pass a bus to turn right immediately in front
of it. Buses sometimes speed up suddenly or
start moving before the traffic light turns green.
Highway Ramps: When an exit ramp
merges from the right, first look over your right
shoulder to see what’s coming. If a lot of cars are
merging, stay straight so they pass before you on the
right. ➑ As you move farther, they’ll pass behind
you on the left. ➒ If there’s a break in the merging
traffic, move over to the right as soon as you can. ➓
Passing Cyclists: Cyclists can swerve faster than cars—so when you pass a bicycle, pass at
least three feet away on the bicycle’s left (not the
right). Always shout “on your left!” before you pass
so nobody’s surprised.
IN CHICAGO
Passing CTA Buses:
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7: TROUBLE SITUATIONS
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EMERGENCY MOVES
When you’re moving fast and something gets in
your way, slamming on the brakes doesn't always
work. This section describes some emergency
moves—like the Quick Slow-Down, Instant Turn,
and Rock Dodge—that you can practice in a quiet
parking lot. Start slowly, then work your speed up.
This section also tells you why knowing how to fall
might keep you from serious injury
The Quick Slow-Down: When you
stop fast, your weight shifts from your back wheel
to the front. Even if you use both your front and
back brakes your back tire can skid and start to lift.
To slow down quickly: ➊
a. Push yourself as far back on the bike as you
can. This keeps weight on the back tire.
b. Put your head and torso as low as you can so
you don’t flip.
c. Squeeze both brakes. If the back tire starts to
slide or lift, ease up on the front brake.
The Instant Turn: Use the Instant Turn
when a car turns in front of you while you’re going
straight. To make a very sudden right turn, you
steer sharply left—towards the car—which makes
you lean right. ➋ Then you turn right hard, steering into the lean. ➌
The Rock Dodge: The Rock Dodge is
just a quick turn of the front wheel to miss a rock
or hole right in front of you. ➍ At the last second,
turn the front wheel sharply left and back right
again. Both your wheels should miss the hazard.
How to Fall: Most serious bicycle injuries
involve brain damage, so the best way to protect
yourself in a fall is by wearing a helmet. Otherwise, it’s not easy to prepare for a fall. But if you
have time to think:
When you’re about to hit a car, don’t try to wipe
out first; instead, stay upright as long as you can.
If you get low you risk going under the wheels or
hitting the sharpest parts of the car.
If you go flying, tuck your head, arms, and legs
into a tight ball and try to roll when you hit the
ground. If you stick your arms out you’re likely
to break them, or your collarbone, or both.
IN CHICAGO
IN CHICAGO
DOGS, PEDS, TRACKS, &
ATTACKS
Dogs: ➎ Here are some of your options
when a dog chases you:
Just stop. Some dogs just want a good chase
and will give up when you’re not moving.
Stop and get off your bike, quick. If the beast
looks like it wants to attack, try to keep the bike
between you and it. Shout something commanding, like “Go home!”
Try to outrun it. This might be a good idea if
there’s more than one dog. Don’t try to outrun
it if you’re not sure you can; too many cyclists
have wiped out when running dogs jam their
front wheels. If you go for it, try a squirt with
your water bottle to slow Fido down. Don’t try
to hit the dog; you could lose your balance.
Use a dog-repellent spray. But be careful:
wind could blow the stuff back into your face.
If a dog bites you, get to a doctor or hospital right
away for a rabies test. If you know where the
dog lives, call 311 to tell police.
Pedestrians: The law says you should
yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. This can test
your patience downtown, where hordes of pedestrians cross against the traffic light when they see
no cars coming. So what happens when you’re
zooming down La Salle Street, come to a green
light, and find a dozen people scurrying through
the crosswalk?
Warn them by shouting or using a bell, whistle,
or horn. Remember: pedestrians look for cars,
not bikes.
If there’s still a crowd in the crosswalk, or
pedestrians freeze, you should slow down or
stop. If you don’t stop, when you’re close
enough for the pedestrians to see you clearly, go
carefully between them. Try not to go between
parents and their kids.
Railroads: Some railroad tracks cross
streets diagonally. If you go over these tracks
without changing your direction, your tires
might get caught between a track and the road.
➏ Instead, try to cross tracks at a right angle—
especially when the street’s wet.
Rocks and Gravel: When you bike
over rocks or gravel, don’t turn suddenly or use
your brakes; you might wipe out. See “Braking”
on page 30 to learn how to brake when it’s slippery.
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Assault:
If somebody’s determined to attack
you, they will—whether you’re on foot, bike, or in
a car. If you’re afraid to bike in a certain neighborhood, don’t—or go with friends and stay on busy
streets. Here are some other tips:
The best defense is to stay alert. If you see
someone who looks like they’ll hurt you, stay
away from them.
Don’t stop, for any reason, in places where you
think you’re about to be attacked.
Carry a defensive spray, such as pepper spray or
dog repellant, where you can grab it quick.
Remember that people who use this stuff often
get it blown back in their own faces.
If you get knocked off your bike by a mugger, don’t
fight. Try to notice what they look like, then go to
the nearest phone and call 911.
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CONFLICTS WITH
MOTORISTS
A lot of motorists act mean toward bicyclists.
Some will cut you off or curse you because they
don’t understand you’re operating a vehicle, just
like them. What should you do?
Rule 1: Don’t start a fight. ➊ As long as
you and your bike aren’t damaged, don’t start a
fight—no matter how steamed you get. If you lose
your cool, the motorist might decide to nail the next
bicyclist that goes by. Or, worse, the motorist
might decide to smash you with two tons of metal
and glass—and speed off before you can even start
to say “license plate.”
Rule 2: Report harassment. ➋ Motorists
that touch you or put you in danger might be guilty
of assault. Stop and write down everything you can
remember: the license plate number, type of car,
and where and when it happened. Then call police
at 311.
Rule 3: Take the long view. ➌ If more
cyclists follow traffic laws, more motorists will
start to see bicycles as vehicles. You can help: If a
motorist questions what you’re doing but isn’t hostile, give them a copy of the back cover of this
booklet. Meanwhile, the City of Chicago is teaching motorists to share the road through driver education, outreach at community events, and
advertising.
IN CHICAGO
WHAT TO DO AFTER
A TRAFFIC COLLISION
If you’re hurt in a traffic collision, don’t ride away or
shake off what seems like a minor injury—you might
find later that it’s worse than you thought. If you’re a
victim of or a witness to a traffic collision, here are the
steps to take:
Call 911 for the police. If needed, get medical help
immediately.
Get the following information from every vehicle
driver: name, address, phone number, driver’s
license number, license plate number, make of car,
insurance company name and policy number.
Get the names and phone numbers of witnesses.
Get the police report number from police on
the scene.
Write down how the crash happened.
Keep (or photograph) any damaged clothes
or equipment.
Also, if you’re a victim:
Don’t get mad at the scene. Keep a level head so
you can ask questions and take notes.
If you’re injured, don’t move unless you’re sure
you won’t injure yourself more.
IN CHICAGO
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8: OFF-STREET BICYCLING
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IN CHICAGO
THE BASICS OF USING
PATHS
Where in Chicago can you bicycle away from the
streets? On the paths of the city’s parks and lakefront. Despite the pleasant setting, bicycle collisions happen almost three times as often on paths
as on streets. Here are some tips about safe path
riding.
Be Courteous: People on paths don’t
always know which side to travel on and when to
yield. So the most important rule for everyone is:
act courteously. ➊ When in doubt, give the other
person a break.
Ride Predictably: Ride straight and at
a steady speed so people can stay out of your way.
Always look back before passing or turning. And
use hand signals (see page 13) and make noise by
shouting or using a bell, horn, or whistle.
Where to Pass? Slower path traffic
should stay right, except to pass—just like traffic
rules for the street. And you usually should pass
others on the left. When there’s not enough room
on the left, pass on the right. Always signal so
people behind you know which side you’ll pass on.
Calling Out to Others: Yell “on
your left” or “on your right” before you pass
another cyclist, a skater, or a runner. ➋ When you
yell at people walking, some will freak out and
jump in front of you. So if they’re walking in a
straight, predictable line, you can pass them without saying anything—but pass them with as much
distance as you can. And you shouldn’t wear
headphones so you can hear others passing you.
When to Yield: Here’s when to yield
on a path: ➌
When you enter a path, or you’re on a path that
crosses a street or another path, always be ready
to slow down and yield to cross traffic.
If cross traffic has a stop or yield sign, they
should yield to you.
If there are no signs, you should yield to the
person who reaches the intersection first.
Yield to anyone who looks like they won’t slow
down for you. And if there’s no room to pass,
yield to people in front of you who are moving
slower than you.
Obey “Slow” Marks:
RIDING THE
LAKEFRONT PATH ➎
Not a Highway: Many, many people use
the Lakefront Path. They walk, run, skate, dance,
and just stand and talk. This means that you—a
cyclist sharing the Path with others—often have to
slow down or stop. If you use the Path to work on
your racing skills or you’re trying to get downtown in
a hurry, going slow might really annoy you. If it
does:
Find a better route. For commuting, city streets
might be faster and safer. For racing, try higherspeed roads outside the city. And if you usually
ride on the North Side, try the Path south of
McCormick Place to 67th Street; it has less traffic.
Use the Path at off-peak times. In warm weather, the times to avoid are Saturdays and Sundays
after 8 a.m., and weekdays after 3 p.m. That’s
when the Lakefront Path gets the most crowded.
Also stay away during special lakefront events
such as football games.
Problem Areas: Many parts of the
Lakefront Path are tricky for cyclists. Here’s a list of
things to watch out for.
Drivers don't yield. The Path crosses roads that
lead to lakefront parks and parking lots. Motorists
should yield to Path users, but they often don’t—
so be ready to stop. ➏
Narrow pavement. In some places the Path is as
narrow as a sidewalk. You should slow down and
share the space.
Crowds. Where it runs along beaches and other
gathering places, the Path’s often filled with
pedestrians. In crowds, go slow and make noise.
Special signs ➐ warn you of really crowded
places.
IN CHICAGO
Slow down
wherever you see a series of thick white lines across
a path. ➍
Don’t Block the Path: Don’t stop on
a path. Instead, move off of the path to stop.
Using Lights: If you ride paths at night,
you should always have lights in front and back. See
page 29 for more info.
Don’t Do Damage: Don’t ride in the
grass or dirt, or lock your bike to small trees. You’ll
compact the soil, killing grass and trees and causing
erosion.
SAFE BICYCLING
27
SAFE BICYCLING
28
Sharp turns. The Path has turns where you can’t
see what’s coming. ➊ You are too smart to ride
fast around these turns, but others aren’t. Slow
down so you’re ready for speeders and pedestrians.
Where’s the Path? Some stretches of pavement
look like they’re part of the Path, but they’re
really access roads and ramps that lead off the
Path. ➋ Know your route, and watch for the
Path’s yellow center stripe. (See the inside back
cover to learn how to get a Lakefront Path map.)
Sand, ice, and snow. When the Path gets covered with sand, ice, or snow, slow down and
avoid sharp turns. ➌
Getting mugged. Less crime occurs on the Path
than in past years, thanks in part to stepped-up
police patrols. But muggings still happen. If you
feel unsafe, ride with a friend.
After 11:00 p.m. After most parks close at
11:00 p.m., the Park District lets cyclists use the
Path to travel (not hang out). But some police
officers don’t know this. If police tell you to get
off the path after 11:00, don’t argue; take another route. But help the police department identify
the officers who need up-to-date information:
Try to get the officer’s beat number or car number (from the top or side of the squad car), then
call 312/42-PEDAL with the info.
Where to Get Help: Here’s where to
go if you need help on the Path.
Park buildings and pay phones. Get help from
a Park District building or use a pay phone if
there’s one nearby.
Wait for police. In daylight hours from May
through October, Chicago Police patrol the Path
on bikes and in cars. ➍ If you can wait, a
police officer will come by.
Bike shops. Several bike shops are located near
the Path. If your bike breaks down, get off the
Path to find a store or gas station where you can
look in the Yellow Pages for the nearest shop.
Hotline. To report a pavement hazard on the
Path, call the Lakefront hotline at 312/747-2474.
IN CHICAGO
9: RIDING AT NIGHT &
IN BAD WEATHER
HOW TO BE SEEN AT NIGHT
Light up! Here’s how:
Reflective
tape: Use white
or yellow in front, yellow or red in
back.
Reflective orange safety vest:
good for cycling in dark clothes.
Don’t wear dark clothes with no other
light-colored material.
Strobe light
Rear light:
Jacket: Bright color,
Not important if
you have a good
rear reflector. If
buying just one light,
get a good headlight.
Many cyclists like
red strobe lights.
reflective piping in back.
Flashlight:
In a pinch, tie on
with rubber bands
or a bungee cord.
Headlight:
battery-powered
halogen or strobe.
Get the most powerful one you can
afford. (Use white
or amber, not red.)
The newer strobe
lights don’t cost
lots and have long
battery lives.
Generator lights
can be bright, and
you don’t have to
worry about batteries.
Rear
reflectors:
Reflective
ankle
strap
Pedal
reflectors:
built into front
and back.
Reflective tape: Use white or
Spoke
reflectors:
not a substitute
for a headlight
and rear
reflector.
yellow in front, yellow or red in back.
Only three percent of bike rides happen at night—but
over half of all cyclists killed get hit while riding at
night without lights. Under Chicago’s bright street
lights you need bike lights to be seen, not to see: At
night, Illinois law requires a white front light visible
from 500 feet, and a red back reflector or light visible
from 100 to 600 feet. That’s not much; you can see a
car’s headlights from 3,000 feet—and that’s what most
motorists look for. And since your upper body’s at eye
level, it’s important to wear bright stuff at night.
Rechargeable
batteries:
If you ride at
night a lot, you’ll
save money and
throw away fewer
toxic batteries.
IN CHICAGO
Biggest are
best; get one
at least three
inches wide,
make sure it’s
pointed straight
back and not up
or down.
Only red is
legal but newer
amber ones can
be 8 times
brighter. Reflectors work only
if they’re clean,
so remember to
wipe them off!
SAFE BICYCLING
29
RIDING AT NIGHT
Defensive Moves: At night you can’t
see where drivers are looking. Also, many drivers
are tired, and some are drunk. Slow down from your
daylight speed. To make sure drivers see you when
you’re stopped, flash your lights by twitching your
handlebars back and forth. ➊ And watch cars
closely; be ready to get out of their way.
Know Your Route: If you’re new at
night riding, take streets where you know the potholes and traffic so you can focus on riding in the
dark. Also, if you’re not sure about nighttime crime
in a neighborhood, ask someone who knows the
area—or don’t ride alone.
Night Blindness: ➋ Don’t bike at
night if your visual acuity’s worse than 20/40 with
glasses or contacts, or you can read a far-away sign
or address okay in daylight but not at night. See a
doctor to be sure.
SAFE BICYCLING
30
IN CHICAGO
RIDING IN RAIN & SNOW
Wet Streets: Wet streets can throw you.
Watch out for:
Metal, paint, and leaves. Metal-grate bridges,
sewer and manhole covers, painted pavement,
and leaves get slippery when wet. Don’t turn or
brake on them. On bridges, if you have thin or
smooth tires don’t ride across; ➌ put both feet
on the road and “scooter” across, or walk your
bike on the sidewalk.
Puddles. Don’t ride through a puddle if you
can’t see the bottom. It could be a deep pothole
that’ll sink you.
Start of rain. Don’t race to beat the rain when
it starts; it’s when streets are slickest, because oil
on the road spreads before it washes away. Turn
slower and with less lean.
Slow Down: Remember that in rain or
snow motorists and cyclists can’t see as well as
usual. And it takes longer for them to stop. To be
safe, go slower than normal.
Braking: When brake pads are wet they take
up to ten times longer to work. Dry them by applying your brakes far ahead of where you want to
slow down, causing your pads to wipe the rims. To
dry them faster, “pump” the brakes by applying
them, then letting go, over and over.
Snow:
Snow crews usually clear major streets
within a day of a major snowfall. Walk your bike to
one and get going. Other concerns:
Ice. Snow hides ice on the pavement, so avoid
riding on snow. ➍ Walk your bike if you must.
Build-up. With piles of snow on the right, ride in
the middle of the right lane. ➎ Let cars pass in
heavy traffic; otherwise, if drivers give you the
horn give them the “slow” arm signal (see page
13)—or shake your head firmly—and keep going.
DRESSING FOR COLD &
WET WEATHER
Chicagoans who bicycle in the cold and rain aren’t
nuts; they’re just dressed right. But how?
Protection for Cold & Wet
Weather: If your clothes keep out rain they
might also seal your sweat in. To vent perspiration,
wear a jacket or poncho that lets air in from the bottom, back, or sides. And fenders work best to keep
your legs, feet, and back dry.
Layers for Cold: You don’t need a whole
new set of clothes to bike in the cold. Instead, wear a
sweatshirt or jacket and add t-shirts, light sweaters,
and tights or long johns in layers as weather gets colder. By wearing light layers you can also remove outer
clothes if you warm up while cycling. (Overheating
can make you sick.) And if you sweat a lot, the layer
closest to your skin should be a non-absorbing material (synthetic instead of cotton) that’ll let sweat evaporate as you ride.
Try different clothing to find what makes you
comfortable at different temperatures and in the rain.
In extreme cold or wind chill, cover your hands, feet,
and ears well. Here are some other ideas:
Cold:
Freezing:
Below
Freezing:
What to Wear
Light jacket or windbreaker;
long pants; light gloves.
Thicker socks (or a second
pair); heavier gloves; hat.
Sweater or another torso layer;
glove liners under gloves; neck
gaiter, turtleneck, or scarf;
headband or earmuffs; add
knee socks; heavy shoes or
shoe covers.
Another torso and leg layer;
mitten shells instead of (or over)
gloves.
IN CHICAGO
Temperature
Cool:
SAFE BICYCLING
31
EQUIPPING YOU AND YOUR
BIKE FOR RAIN AND SNOW
Wear bright colors:
yellow, orange, or fluorescent pink.
Ears: Wide headbands and even
earmuffs fit under your helmet.
Head: Cover it unless you have thick hair.
A tight-fitting hood covers your ears and
fits under your helmet.
cotton turtleneck, or neck
gaiter keeps icy air from
blasting down your shirt.
Hoods: Don’t use
loose-fitting hoods
that block peripheral
vision.
Hands: Use gardening
Neck: High
or fishing gloves with wool
or synthetic liners, ski gloves,
or thick ragwool hunters’
gloves.
collar or hood
keeps water
from going
down your
neck.
Neck: Wool scarf,
Crotch:
Leg
gaiters:
To prevent unusual
frostbite, avoid porous
warm-up pants.
often made of
nylon; keep your
pants legs dry.
Legs: When it’s cold but dry, wear loosefitting, average-weight pants like jeans. When
it’s colder use long underwear or a second
pair of tights. In wet weather wear synthetic
underwear with one or two pairs of tights.
Rain gear: Wear a waterproof jacket. If
sweat’s a problem, wear a loose or vented jacket, a waterproof poncho that lets in air from
below, or a cyclist’s rain cape that hooks to
handlebars to keep it out of your tires.
Feet: Wear heavy wool socks or two pairs of socks. Knee socks pro-
tect shins from cold from below. With socks for warmth and fenders for
dryness, wear shoes simply to take road dirt. When it’s really cold and
wet, wear rubber boots.
Rims: When wet, brake pads grip
aluminum rims better than they do
steel.
Tires: Fat tires have better
traction. Tires less than 1 1/4"
wide work better on wet streets
when under-inflated. Use tires
with a herring-bone tread
pattern.
SAFE BICYCLING
32
Brakes: Grime builds up on brake pads, making
them squeak or scratch your rims. Run a rag between
each pad and the rim, like shining a shoe. Occasionally remove the wheel and check pads for wear.
Bearing
damage: After
biking in wet weather
put your bike indoors so
bearings can dry.
Fenders: They beat
almost anything to keep
you dry on wet pavement.
The newest plastic
ones are cheap and
light, but can crack if
installed wrong.
Salt damage: With lots of winter riding, occasionally
IN CHICAGO
wipe down your frame, rims, spokes, and derailleurs, and lube
your chain (see page 5). Use a toothbrush for hard-to reach parts.
BICYCLISTS’ RESOURCES
Information about Bicycling
in Chicago
Chicagoland Department of Transportation
312/742-BIKE (742-2453)
Suite 400, 30 N. LaSalle St., 60602
www.ci.chi.il.us/Transportation/Bikes
View the Chicago Bike Map on-line, request bike
parking, suggest bicycling facilities, and more.
Chicagoland Bicycle Federation (CBF)
312/42-PEDAL (427-3325)
Room 300, 650 S. Clark St., 60605
www.biketraffic.org
Your one-stop source of bicycle info for the Chicago
area: maps, commuting, bike rides and cycling
events, safety, clubs, government contacts, national
bicyclists’ network, and bike facilities planning.
Reprinted
September, 2001
Other Helpful Sources
To report a city street hazard: 311
To report a Lakefront Path hazard: 312/744-2474
To request Mayor Daley’s Bicycling
Ambassadors: 312/427-3325, x25
www.biketraffic.org/ambassador
Maps
Chicago Bike Map (free)
Chicago Bureau of Traffic 312/742-2453
Suite 400, 30 N. LaSalle St., 60602
Lakefront Path Map
Chicago Park District 312/744-2474
www.chicagoparkdistrict.com
Seven-county Chicagoland Bicycle Map
($6.95 retail, $5.00 CBF members)
Chicagoland Bicycle Federation (CBF)
312/42-PEDAL (427-3325)
Room 300, 650 S. Clark St., 60605
www.biketraffic.org
State-wide bike map information
Ill. Dept. of Transportation 217/782-0834
State-wide trail information
Ill. Dept. of Natural Resources 217/782-7498
Illinois Rules of the Road
Secretary of State’s Office 800/252-8980
Information for the hearing impaired
800/526-0844 (TDD only)
Created by the
Chicagoland Bicycle
Federation for the Chicago
Dept. of Transportation.
Funded by the Illinois
Dept. of Transportation,
Division of Traffic Safety,
and the Chicago Dept. of
Transportation.
Conceived and written by
Dave Glowacz.
Graphic design by Debra
Schoeneberg.
Illustrations by Eric Masi,
Michael Brooks, and Mike
Werner.
Photographs by Carolyn
Prieb, Dave Glowacz,
Jackie Shane and Nick
Jackson.
Product photographs courtesy of Bell Sports,
Kryptonite, and Pro-tec.
Copyright © 2001 by the
Chicagoland Bicycle Federation.
Every person riding a bicycle upon a
roadway shall be granted all of the
rights and shall be subject to all of
the duties applicable to the driver of
CHICAGO
a vehicle by the laws of this state
TRAFFIC
declaring rules of the road
applicable
to vehicles or by
LAW:
the traffic ordinances of this
Bicycles
city applicable to the
driver of a vehicle.
are vehicles!
Section 9-52-010(a)
of the Chicago
Municipal Code
Traffic rules that
apply to motorists
also apply to bicyclists.
Because both state and city laws define bicycle
riders as vehicle operators, motorists should treat
them as such. Specifically, motorists should treat
a bicycle as a vehicle for purposes of:
LEFT AND RIGHT TURNS
PASSING
STOPPING AT LIGHTS
AND STOP SIGNS
YIELDING RIGHT-OF-WAY
LANE POSITION
A message from the Chicago Department of Transportation.
Bicyclists are encouraged to reproduce this message and share it
with motorists and others.
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