We are happy to report progress on our campaign to improve road signage. Early this year, we wrote about how Ride Illinois has been working with IDOT and other agencies to adopt signs that educate all road users about the 3 foot passing law which provides clarity on how to “share the road.” The law, written and lobbied for by Ride Illinois, addresses a major safety concern for cyclists: drivers “squeezing by” as oncoming traffic approaches. This summer, Wayne Township became the first agency in Illinois to install signs that read: STATE LAW – 3 FEET MIN TO PASS BICYCLES. We are fully funding Wayne Township’s precedent-setting effort while advocating for signs in several other communities, often with input from local bicycle clubs. We invite cyclists throughout the state to help us identify problem areas and roads and contact us through our online Make Biking Better form. Let us know of locations where better signs are needed and please consider a making a donation to enable us to help more agencies install them.
Read our full press release below:
Ride Illinois successfully advocates for installation of new road signs in Wayne Township meant to improve bicyclist and driver safety.
Advocates for installation of similar road signs in other towns and counties around the state.
Wayne Township, in northwestern DuPage County, has recently installed new road signs meant to improve bicyclist and driver safety when sharing the roads. Proposed and funded by Ride Illinois, a statewide bicycle advocacy organization, the signs inform each user type—drivers and cyclists—of relevant state laws often not known or followed.
The new STATE LAW – 3 FEET MIN TO PASS BICYCLES signs cite a state law intended to reduce close passing by motorists. This is a major safety concern for cyclists, often occurring when cars “squeeze by” as oncoming traffic approaches. Ride Illinois wrote and successfully lobbied for passage of this law in 2007.
The new RIDING 3 OR MORE ABREAST PROHIBITED – IT’S THE LAW! sign is directed to side-by-side riding by large cycling groups. While bicyclists have the legal right to ride on roads, they are required to follow this and other traffic laws. Indirectly, it helps educates motorists that riding 2 abreast is legal and permitted (as long as the normal and reasonable movement of traffic is not impeded).
The signs have been installed in pairs on Smith Road and Powis Road, both popular bicycle routes in the area.
“We want to constructively address concerns we have heard from both motorists and bike riders. Our hope is that both messages will help improve safety and reduce negative interactions” said Martin McManamon, Road Commissioner for Wayne Township.
Ed Barsotti, Chief Programs Officer of Ride Illinois, added “We appreciate Wayne Township’s partnership with us to improve safety through education. We also hope this sets a successful precedent as we advocate for similar signage installation in other towns and counties.”
Ride Illinois believes these new signs will provide clarity for both drivers and cyclists, and are a more effective option than the commonly-installed SHARE THE ROAD sign. Recent behavioral studies have shown that SHARE THE ROAD signs may be interpreted in conflicting ways by cyclists and motorists, reducing their effectiveness in alerting and educating motorists about sharing the road with bicycles properly.
Earlier this year, Ride Illinois reached out to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) about the inadequacy of the SHARE THE ROAD sign and to gain their support for the use of two new signs:
With IDOT’s approval, Ride Illinois began advocating for new sign installation in a number of towns and counties across the state. The organization is currently partnering with bike clubs and advocates in select communities to identify high priority problem areas that could greatly benefit from the new signage. Wayne Township is the first to install the STATE LAW – 3 FEET MIN TO PASS BICYCLES sign.
“As a local bicycle advocate, I appreciate the opportunity to partner with Ride Illinois and make the case for better signage on popular routes like Powis and Smith Roads. I think this helps make DuPage County a bit more bike-friendly, in a balanced way,” said Terry Witt, Advocacy Director of Spin Doctor Cyclewerks, a Bartlett bicycle shop.