A Pilsen resident receives a bike light from volunteer Nathan. This Get Lit distribution event in September was sponsored by Chicago Cycling Club. Photo by Brandon Souba.
Ed. note: This post was originally written by Brendan Kevenides and published on his blog, My Bike Advocate. Brendan is a lawyer who tip represents people who bike and are involved in collisions and crashes. I selected this post to bring attention to the education and fundraising campaign I started, Get Lit, at a time when it gets dark early and people are still bicycling in the dark or in inclement weather without lights. You can donate to Get Lit, via the Active Transportation Alliance, to provide lights for people without them at future distribution events.
You are riding your bicycle at night and get hit by a negligent driver suffering injuries. Your bicycle had no lights and no reflectors in violation of the Illinois vehicle code. Will you you be barred from receiving compensation from the offending driver?
Not necessarily. (Read this post at its original site.)
The key to determining whether your lack of a light and reflector will bar legal recourse is whether your absence of illumination was a cause of the crash. In many instances lack of lighting will indeed cause or at least contribute to cause a crash. Bicyclists should ride with a bright white light on the front of their bikes and with a bright red light and reflector on the back. Doing so will substantially reduce the chances of being involved in many types of crashes. For example, front lighting will undoubtedly reduce a bicyclist’s chances of getting doored while riding at night. A driver exiting her vehicle will be much better able to see a cyclist in her side view mirror if the bike is properly illuminated. Furthermore, Illinois law requires a bicyclist to outfit their bike with at least a front light and a rear reflector. The relevant statute states: