As a general rule, bicyclists must obey the same traffic laws as vehicle drivers. Please read the Illinois Bicycle Rules of the Road for more details. The following laws and safety rules are particularly important for bicyclists:
- Always ride with the traffic flow, as close to the right edge of the road as possible.
- Obey all traffic signals, pavement markings and directions given by police officers.
- Use hand signals to let drivers know your intentions.
- Bicycling after dark is very hazardous. Bicycles must be equipped with a front light that reaches 500 feet and a rear, red reflector.
- Wearing light-colored, reflective clothing increases your visibility to other drivers during the day and night.
- Learn to look over your shoulder without losing your balance or swerving left.
- Do not pass on the right.
- Motorists often will not look for passing cyclists in that direction.
- When moving the same speed as traffic, ride in the middle of the lane, especially at busy intersections.
- Keep both hands on the brakes. Allow extra stopping time in the rain.
- Be alert for cars pulling out and make eye contact with the drivers to ensure you have been seen.
- Do not weave between parked cars.
In addition to state laws, many municipalities have ordinances restricting bicycles in certain areas. Contact local law enforcement agencies in the areas where you plan to ride.
Bicycle Maintenance Checklist
Inspect your bicycle for the following:
- Securely attached wheels that are properly adjusted and spin freely with all spokes in place.
- All reflectors are clean and intact.
- The seat and handlebars are adjusted to a comfortable position with all nuts and bolts tightened.
- Secure handgrips.
- Tires should not have cracks on the sidewalls, cuts in the tread or excessive wear. Using proper tire pressure, printed on the sidewall of the tire, prevents excessive wear.
- Caliper brake pads that are not worn and are properly adjusted.
- Gear and brake cables that move freely. Replace rusted or frayed cables.
- The chain should be free of rust. Too much oil will attract dust and dirt, shortening the life of the chain.
- Pedals that are securely fastened, and pedal reflectors that are clean and visible.
This checklist takes only a few minutes and may prevent you from having an accident or mechanical breakdown. If you are uncertain of the condition of your bicycle, visit a local bike shop. Most shops offer free safety inspections and books on do-it-yourself maintenance.
Always lock your bicycle when it is parked. Register your bicycle with your local police department if possible. Be sure to keep your bike's serial number in a safe place.