This spring, Ride Illinois asked our members to reach out to state representatives to support a new bill that would have information on bicycles and sharing the road in our state’s Rules of the Road publication as well as add bike safety questions to the pool of questions used in the state driver’s license exam. State Rep. Theresa Mah introduced HB5143; and, a week ago, it became law.
The new law amends the Illinois Vehicle Code by adding information on the Dutch Reach method to the state Rules of the Road publication. The first addition to the Illinois Vehicle Code states “The Secretary of State shall include, in the Illinois Rules of the Road publication, information advising drivers to use the Dutch Reach method when opening a vehicle door after parallel parking on a street (checking the rear-view mirror, checking the side-view mirror, then opening the door with the right hand, thereby reducing the risk of injuring a bicyclist or opening the door in the path a vehicle approaching from behind).”
Illinois Department of Transportation data shows dooring crashes have been on the rise across the state, especially in urban areas. In 2015, there were more than 300 reported dooring crashes in Chicago alone – a 50 percent increase over the previous year. Research shows the Dutch Reach method makes drivers and passengers more aware of approaching cyclists, helping prevent crashes and save lives.
The law’s other addition to the Illinois Vehicle Code states “The Secretary of State shall include, in the question pool used for the written portion of the driver’s license examination, test questions concerning safe driving in the presence of bicycles, of which one may be concerning the Dutch Reach method.”
We, along with our partner Active Transportation Alliance, were proud to advocate for the bill. We are thrilled to report that the state is already in the process of implementing the changes. The 2018 Illinois Rules of the Road has updated information on bicycles, beginning on page 42, including an infographic detailing the Dutch Reach on page 43. Ride Illinois has been collaborating with the Secretary of State on the wording of three questions to be added to the driver exam pool of questions on safe interaction between drivers of motor vehicles and bicyclists.
Now, we need to work to educate the public on this best practice. We are currently working with drivers education classes across the state and continue to promote our BikeSafetyQuiz.com online resource.