Below are excerpts I have copied in entirety from the Municipal Code of Chicago regarding bicycling and behaviors of automobiles that may impact bikes. Emphasis and inferences are my own. Formatting changes made for readability. Any comments or opinions are my own. I am not a lawyer and take no risk or offer any assurances for the reader’s interpretation of anything communicated in this article.

CHAPTER 9-4 TRAFFIC DEFINITIONS AND GENERAL PROVISIONS

9-4-020 Violation – Penalty.

Every person who violates any provision of Chapters 9-4 through 9-100 for which no penalty is specifically provided shall be fined not less than $90.00 nor more than $500.00 for each offense.

(Added Coun. J. 7-12-90, p. 18634; Amend Coun. J. 11-6-02, p. 96501, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 12-4-02, p. 100729, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 11-5-08, p. 43682, § 1)

9-4-025 Bicycle safety violation – Penalty.

a)

  1. Any person who violates subsection e) or f) of Section 9-16-020, subsection c) of Section 9-36-010, or Section 9-40-060, of this Code, shall be subject to a fine of $150.00 for each offense.
  2. Any person who violates subsection e) or f) of Section 9-16-020, subsection c) of Section 9-36-010, or Section 9-40-060, of this Code, when such violation causes a collision between a motor vehicle and a bicycle, shall be subject to a fine of $500.00 for each offense.

b)

  1. Any person who violates Section 9-40-160 of this Code, when such violation interferes with the movement of a bicycle, shall be subject to a fine of $150.00 for each offense.
  2. Any person who violates Section 9-40-160 of this Code, when such violation causes a collision between a motor vehicle and a bicycle, shall be subject to a fine of $500.00 for each offense.

c)

  1. Any person who violates Section 9-80-035 of this Code, when such violation interferes with the movement of a bicycle, shall be subject to a fine of $300.00 for each offense.
  2. Any person who violates Section 9-80-035 of this Code, when such violation causes a collision between a motor vehicle and a bicycle, shall be subject to a fine of $1,000.00 for each offense.

(Added Coun. J. 3-12-08, p. 22781, § 2; Amend Coun. J. 6-5-13, p. 54983, § 1)

CHAPTER 9-16 TURNING MOVEMENTS

9-16-020 Turning at intersections.

The driver of a vehicle intending to turn at an intersection shall do so as follows:

a) Right turns. Both the approach for a right turn and a right turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.

b) Left turns on two-way roadways. At any intersection where traffic is permitted to move in both directions on each roadway entering the intersection, an approach for a left turn shall be made in that portion of the right half of the roadway nearest the centerline thereof and by passing to the right of such centerline where it enters the intersection or on that portion of the roadway that may be specifically designated for such purpose by appropriate markings, and after entering the intersection the left turn shall be made so as to leave the intersection to the right of the centerline of the roadway being entered. Whenever practicable the left turn shall be made in that portion of the intersection to the left of the center of the intersection.

c) Left turns on other than two-way roadways. At any intersection where traffic is restricted to one direction on one or more of the roadways, the driver of a vehicle intending to turn left at any such intersection shall approach the intersection in the extreme left-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the direction of travel of such vehicle or on that portion of the roadway that may be specifically designated for such purpose by appropriate markings, and after entering the intersection the left turn shall be made so as to leave the intersection, as nearly as practicable, in the left-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in such direction upon the roadway being entered.

d) Right-of-way on left turn. The driver of a vehicle within an intersection intending to turn to the left shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction which is within the intersection or so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard, but said driver, having so yielded and having given a signal when and as required, may make such left turn and the drivers of all other vehicles approaching the intersection from said opposite direction shall yield the right-of-way to the vehicle making the left turn.

e) Right-of-way to a bicycle on left turn. The driver of a vehicle within an intersection intending to turn to the left shall yield the right-of-way to a bicycle approaching from the opposite direction which is within the intersection or so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard.

f) Turning right in front of a bicycle. When a motor vehicle and a bicycle are traveling in the same direction on any highway, street, or road, the operator of the motor vehicle overtaking such bicycle traveling on the right side of the roadway shall not turn to the right in front of the bicycle at that intersection or at any alley or driveway until such vehicle has overtaken and is safely clear of the bicycle.

(Added Coun. J. 7-12-90, p. 18634; Amend Coun. J. 3-12-08, p. 22781, § 1)

Conclusion: It is illegal for a car to turn right in front of a bicycle, and cars are supposed to yield to bikes if a left hand-turn against an oncoming bike could cause a hazard

CHAPTER 9-36 OVERTAKING VEHICLES

9-36-010 Overtaking on the left.

a) The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left thereof at a safe distance and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle.

b) Except when overtaking and passing on the right is permitted, the driver of an overtaken vehicle shall not increase the speed of his vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.

c) The operator of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle or individual proceeding in the same direction on a highway shall leave a safe distance, but not less than 3 feet, when passing the bicycle or individual and shall maintain that distance until safely past the overtaken bicycle or individual.

(Added Coun. J. 7-12-90, p. 18634; Amend Coun. J. 3-12-08, p. 22781, § 1)

Conclusion: Cars must give bicyclists 3 feet of space when passing

CHAPTER 9-40 DRIVING RULES

9-40-060 Driving, standing or parking on bicycle paths or lanes prohibited.

a) The driver of a vehicle shall not drive, unless entering or exiting a legal parking space, or stand, or park the vehicle upon any on-street path or lane designated by official signs or markings for the use of bicycles, or otherwise drive or place the vehicle in such a manner as to impede bicycle traffic on such path or lane. The driver of a vehicle shall not stand or park the vehicle upon any lane designated by pavement markings for the shared use of motor vehicles and bicycles, or place the vehicle in such a manner as to impede bicycle traffic on such lane; provided, however, the driver of a bus may stop the bus in any such lane (i) at a designated bus stop for the purpose of loading or unloading of passengers, (ii) in case of an emergency; or (iii) as permitted in Section 9-48-050d of this Code. In addition to the fine provided in Section 9-4-025 of this Code, any vehicle parked in violation of this section shall be subject to an immediate tow and removal to a city vehicle pound or authorized garage.

b) Notwithstanding any provision of this code to the contrary, an electric personal assistive mobility device, as that term is defined in Section 9-80-205, may enter and drive upon the Randolph Protected Bike Lane located on Upper East Randolph Street, between North Michigan Avenue and North Harbor Drive.

(Added Coun. J. 7-12-90, p. 18634; Amend Coun. J. 9-1-99, p. 10503, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 3-12-08, p. 22781, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 6-5-13, p. 54983, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 7-30-14, p. 85779, § 2)

Conclusion: A bus can park in the bike lane during normal loading/unloading or if there are extenuating circumstances, but no other vehicle can. Vehicles cannot in any way impede bikes in designated lanes. They cannot stand or park or drive through bike lanes. If they do so they are subject to a fine and immediate towing

See also a special notice from the City of Chicago as well as official media from IDOT regarding enforcement of regulation 9-40-060.

9-40-070 Driving on sidewalks or parkways prohibited.

The driver of a vehicle shall not drive on any sidewalk or parkway except on a permanent or temporary driveway.

(Added Coun. J. 7-12-90, p. 18634)

9-40-160 Drivers to exercise due care.

Every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian, or any person operating a bicycle or other device propelled by human or animal power, upon any roadway, and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary and shall exercise proper precautions upon observing any child or any confused or incapacitated person upon a roadway.

(Added Coun. J. 7-12-90, p. 18634; Amend Coun. J. 3-12-08, p. 22781, § 1)

Conclusion: Drivers should be as cautious with bicyclists and drive as defensively as they would with pedestrians

9-40-170 Driving or moving vehicle in unsafe condition.

It is unlawful for any person to drive or move, or for the owner to cause or knowingly permit to be driven or moved, on any roadway any vehicle or combination of vehicles which is in such unsafe condition as to endanger any person or property or which contains equipment prohibited by the traffic code or is not equipped with such lamps and other equipment in proper condition and adjustment as required in the traffic code, or which is equipped in any manner in violation of this Code.

(Added Coun. J. 7-12-90, p. 18634)

CHAPTER 9-52 BICYCLES – OPERATION

9-52-010 Rights and duties.

a) Every bicyclist upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by the laws of this state declaring rules of the road applicable to vehicles or by the traffic ordinances of this city applicable to the driver of a vehicle, except as otherwise explicitly provided in this Code, or as to those provisions of laws and ordinances which by their nature can have no application.

b) The regulations in the traffic code applicable to bicycles shall apply whenever a bicycle is operated upon any roadway or public sidewalk or upon any public path set aside for the use of bicycles, subject to those exceptions stated herein.

c) Whenever authorized signs are erected indicating that no right or left turn or turn in the opposite direction is permitted, no bicyclist shall disobey the direction of any such sign unless he dismounts from the bicycle to make the turn, in which event he shall then obey the regulations applicable to pedestrians.

d) Unless another fine or penalty is specifically provided in this chapter, any person who violates this chapter shall be fined not less than $50.00 nor more than $200.00 for each offense.

(Added Coun. J. 7-12-90, p. 18634; Amend Coun. J. 11-5-08, p. 43682, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 6-5-13, p. 54983, § 1)

9-52-020 Riding bicycles on sidewalks and certain roadways.

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.

b) Unless the prohibition imposed by subsection c) applies, a person 12 or more years of age may ride a bicycle upon any sidewalk in any 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.

c) Bicycles shall not be operated on Lake Shore Drive or on any public way where the operation of bicycles has been prohibited and signs have been erected indicating such prohibition.

(Added Coun. J. 7-12-90, p. 18634; Amend Coun. J. 6-5-13, p. 54983, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 9-11-13, p. 59827, § 1)

Conclusion: Bicyclists can ride on the sidewalk in a business district (who knows what that is?!) if the sidewalk is designated for cycling, or to get to/from bike stations (Divvy), to enter/exit the road or an intersection, to enter/exit trails. Kids under 12 can ride on the sidewalk any time

9-52-021 Riding on North Sheridan Road sidewalk prohibited.

a) No person 12 or more years of age shall ride a bicycle on the sidewalk adjacent to North Sheridan Road, between West Ardmore Avenue and West Sheridan Road (6400 north). The penalty for any person age 18 and older who violates this section shall be a fine of $200.

b) In accordance with Section 9-52-020c, the commissioner of transportation is authorized to erect and maintain signage which gives notice of the prohibition in subsection a) of this section. No person shall be found in violation of this section unless the required signage has been posted.

(Added Coun. J. 2-6-02, p. 79154, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 6-4-03, p. 2538, § 1; Amend Coun. J. 9-11-13, p. 59827, § 1)

9-52-030 Speed of bicycles.

No person shall operate a bicycle at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions then existing.

(Added Coun. J. 7-12-90, p. 18634)

Conclusion: Regulations around speed are ambiguous

9-52-040 Yielding right-of-way.

a) The operator of a bicycle emerging from an alley, driveway or building shall, upon approaching a sidewalk or the sidewalk area extending across any alleyway, yield the right-of-way to all pedestrians approaching on the sidewalk or sidewalk area and, upon entering the roadway, shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching on the roadway.

b) Whenever any person is riding a bicycle upon a sidewalk, such person shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and shall give audible signal before overtaking and passing such pedestrian.

c) Except as otherwise provided in subsection e) of this section, any bicyclist 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 near as practicable and safe to the right-hand side of the roadway, except in the following circumstances:

  1. when overtaking another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction; or
  2. when preparing for a left turn; or
  3. when reasonably necessary to avoid conditions including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, 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, the term “substandard width lane” means a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane; or
  4. when approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.

d) Any bicyclist upon a roadway is permitted to pass on the right side of a slower-moving or standing vehicle or bicycle, but must exercise due care when doing so. When approaching a vehicle which has discharged passengers from its right side, a bicyclist must either yield to those pedestrians or pass on the left.

e) Any person operating a bicycle upon a one- way roadway with two or more marked traffic lanes may ride as near to the left-hand side of such roadway as practicable.

Conclusion: Bikes can ride on either side of multi-lane one-way roads. Bikes can pass on the right or left. Bikes should generally stay as right as possible, but nothing prescribes that a bicycle must be in the bike lane. There are times when it is perfectly acceptable to not be as far to the right as possible. Yield to pedestrians!

9-52-045 Bicycle operator’s signals – Hand and arm – Manner.

A bicyclist upon the roadway or upon any public path set aside for the use of bicycles shall give hand and arm signals in the following manner:

  1. Left turn, left hand and arm extended horizontally;
  2. Right turn, left hand and arm extended upward, or right hand and arm extended horizontally;
  3. Stop or decrease speed, left or right hand and arm extended downward.

(Added Coun. J. 6-5-13, p. 54983, § 1)

9-52-070 Parking.

No person shall park a bicycle upon a street other than upon the roadway against the curb or upon the sidewalk against a rack, parking meter or sign pole to support the bicycle or against a building or at the curb in such manner as to afford the least obstruction to pedestrian traffic.

Conclusion: It is legal to park a bike against a sign pole or parking meter

9-52-080 Headlamps, reflectors and brakes.

a) Every bicycle when in use at nighttime shall be equipped with a head lamp which shall emit a white light visible from a minimum distance of 500 feet from the front and with a rear red reflector capable of reflecting the head lamp beams of an approaching motor vehicle back to the operator of such vehicle at distances up to 200 feet or a rear lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of at least 200 feet from the rear.

b) Every bicycle shall be equipped with a brake that will enable the operator to make the braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement.

(Added Coun. J. 7-12-90, p. 18634)

Conclusion: Headlamps are required at night as well as rear red reflectors or a rear red light. At least one wheel brake is required

CHAPTER 9-80 MISCELLANEOUS RULES

9-80-035 Opening and closing vehicle doors.

No person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so, and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic, nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.

(Added Coun. J. 3-12-08, p. 22781, § 2)

Conclusion: Drivers are legally at fault for doorings and accidents resulting from opening their door into traffic. Drivers cannot leave their doors open into traffic for an excessive/dangerous length of time

Additional Resources

See also a Traffic Enforcement for Bicyclist Safety - Chicago Police video made by the Chicago Police Department highlighting traffic violations that can endanger bicycle safety.

“Bikes do belong on the road

“It is illegal to turn right in front of a bicyclist … the same goes for making a left turn in front of a bicyclist”

“Caution costs just a few seconds”

“Motorists must leave at least 3 feet of space between their vehicle and a bike”

“Before opening the door of a car drivers have an obligation to check for traffic coming from behind. Especially bikes”

“Drivers who use bike lanes to get through traffic should be cited”

“Bicyclists must drive in the same direction as cars”

“It is illegal to drive in a bike lane”