Get Lit: If I ride at night without a light, what are potential consequences?


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:

Continue reading Get Lit: If I ride at night without a light, what are potential consequences?

Kinzie Street crash story: Report them all


Last Tuesday a friend of mine called me around 6 PM to describe that he had just witnessed a cyclist get involved in a collision with an automobile at Canal Street and Kinzie Street. From my friend’s point of view (which was a couple hundred feet west of the intersection), the cyclist was turning left from westbound Kinzie Street (after exiting the bridge) onto southbound Canal Street. The driver was traveling east on Kinzie Street.

My friend approached the scene and asked the driver to pull over and exchange information with the cyclist. The driver moved her car to Canal Street. My friend then met with the fallen cyclist and talked him through all of the steps of things to do after a crash:

  1. Call police and file a crash report
  2. Keep calm (this is probably the hardest part and I have no doubt that my friend’s presence here served to reassure the cyclist that they were not alone in this crash). This includes not talking about who might be at fault.
  3. Get witness information
  4. Preserve evidence; get information from the other parties; take pictures (my friend photographed the driver involved)
  5. Take care of yourself, get medical attention (this cyclist didn’t want it when asked by the 911 operator)

Continue reading Kinzie Street crash story: Report them all

Get Lit lights up 115 bikes in its first distribution event


Father and daughter on their custom scraper bikes, with Skim, a volunteer. 

Because of the gracious donations of Jim Freeman and 12 donors, Get Lit held its first bike light distribution event on Friday, June 8, in Lincoln Park. Ten volunteers (Calvin, Brandon, Erik, Wilbur, Skim, Adrianna, Santiago, Jim, Rebecca, and myself) distributed lights to 115 people at Diversey Avenue and Orchard Street, and Clark Street and Diversey Avenue for two hours. The recipients included food delivery guys, couples on dates (or so I guess), a father and daughter riding through the neighborhood, and countless others who didn’t know state law (and the desire to be seen) requires a front headlight.


Calvin installs a light. 


This recent graduate of DePaul’s law school is happy to know he now rides a bike legally at night. 

See the full photoset.

One of the Get Lit donors has been randomly chosen to receive the Monkeylectric spoke lights I advertised in May. Derek R., please email Grid Chicago to claim it (you should have received an email announcing you as the winner). Get Lit is a partnership with Active Transportation Alliance and we are now collecting donations to put on a second event in 2012: you can donate online at Active Transportation Alliance’s special Get Lit website, mail your donation to their office with “Get Lit” in the memo (address at the end), or hand it to me.

Do you have an idea of where the next Get Lit distribution event should be? Would your business or organization like to sponsor a Get Lit event in a certain area or at an already-scheduled event? Contact me.

Active Transportation Alliance
9 W Hubbard, Suite 402
Chicago, IL 60654

Get Lit campaign to distribute lights to those without is nearing first event


Win this Monkeylectric spoke light by donating to Get Lit by May 30th. 

The Get Lit-Use Lights At Night campaign, that I run with fundraising and event management support from Active Transportation Alliance, is raising money very slowly. But that’s not going to stop us from having the first distribution event in June. Nine donors have given $166, putting us $80 short of our first event and $1,634 of buying a lot of lights. But Jim Freeman (a major sponsor of Grid Chicago and the first sponsor of Get Lit) has helped secure a donation of 250 lights for cyclists. Remember, state and city law require a front white light.

Continue reading Get Lit campaign to distribute lights to those without is nearing first event

Weekend open thread: Which bike issue concerns you most?

My main goal in writing for Grid Chicago is to get more people interested in improving conditions for sustainable transportation in Chicagoland. That first starts with education and awareness. I tell you what’s up. This post features several bicycling issues I’ve recently been bothered by. Which bike issue concerns you most?

Is it people driving in protected bike lanes, like these Chevy Malibu and BMW drivers on 18th Street this past week?


Watch this video on Vimeo.


Or something else? Continue reading Weekend open thread: Which bike issue concerns you most?

I’m raising money so more people on bikes can Get Lit


Educating cyclists and distributing lights in Wicker Park in 2010. 

I started the Get Lit: Use Lights at Night campaign last year because I thought too many people in Chicago cycled in the dark without headlights. Not only do city and state laws require the use, but it’s helpful for two other reasons: drivers in cars behind windshields and other distractions are more likely to see you; they can save your butt in court if you’re involved in a crash (the “I didn’t see the cyclist” defense can’t work if you’ve got a flashing white light).

In my experience being involved with two bike light distributions, recipients weren’t aware of the laws, or of the other benefits of having lights. In other words, this was the first time anyone had ever told them about using lights while cycling.

What is Get Lit? Continue reading I’m raising money so more people on bikes can Get Lit