Do you think that the only people who ride bicycles are children and that they only ride in residential areas? When questioned, many people in the areas surrounding Chicago express this view but it is far from reality, especially as bicycling for transportation has exploded in the city in recent decades. In truth, bicyclists of all ages can be seen in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs in all weather and in all seasons. No longer are cyclists taking to the roads only in the nice summer weather, but some riders even brave the snow and sleet of winter as they travel.
Illinois laws has bicycle-specific requirements that some rides and many non-riders do not know. Additionally, many cities and incorporated areas across the state have their own laws and rules in addition to those issued by the State of Illinois, and it is up to every rider to make sure that he or she knows these rules and follows them as written. One such rule requires bicycles that will be used during nighttime be equipped with a headlight or a light on the front of the bicycle that can be visible from at least 500 feet. This light must be white in color and is designed to keep a rider safe by alerting others in the area, primarily drivers of automobiles, that a cyclist is approaching.
Now one local area is taking safety up as an issue and is handing out free lights to bicyclists on October 30, 2014. Evanston will be giving away and installing headlights at the Robert Crown Center and The Weber Arch at Northwestern University between 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. and will have 400 lights available. In addition, other resources for cyclists including maps will be distributed to those who participate.
While Evanston may be giving away headlights for free, it is important to note that using a headlight will not meet all the requirements stated by law if you want to ride a bicycle at night. Riders also must have a red rear reflector present with visibility from at least 100 feet. The use of a red rear lamp is optional but the reflector and the headlight are both requirements.
While bicycle ridership has increased and is projected to continue to rise, unfortunately the number of bicycle accidents in Illinois, especially in Chicago, continues to remain high. Every year, thousands of riders are hurt and several bicyclists lose their lives when a collision takes place. Most of these accidents involve cars, trucks, and buses but collisions with other bicycles, motorcycles, and pedestrians occur as well.