For immediate release
April 10, 2018
Active Transportation Alliance
Government Relations Director
O: (312) 216-0473
Bike safety bill to reform Illinois’ road manual and driver’s license exam moves forward
Legislation promotes the Dutch Reach method of opening car doors to prevent dooring crashes
Springfield, Ill: April 10, 2018 — A bill that would add the Dutch Reach method to Illinois’ Rules of the Road manual and add bike safety questions to the state driver’s license exam passed out of committee Tuesday.
The Dutch Reach method encourages drivers and passengers to use their far hand and reach across their body to open car doors after parallel parking, forcing people to look back for approaching cyclists and other traffic before exiting the car. Research shows it makes drivers and passengers more aware of approaching cyclists, helping prevent crashes and save lives.
“With more people riding bikes in communities across Illinois, these updates to the state’s road manual and driver’s license exam are sorely needed,” said State Rep. Theresa Mah, the bill’s lead sponsor. “The changes will help people driving become more aware of bicyclists and teach them how to travel and exit their cars safely.”
The bill (House Bill 5143) now advances to the full House. It’s co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 20 legislators.
Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) data shows dooring crashes are 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.
“Getting doored is never too far from the mind of people riding bikes in the Chicago region,” said Ron Burke, Executive Director of the Active Transportation Alliance. “This bill is a good step towards reforming state policy to better reflect the needs and safety of all road users.”
For months, Rep. Mah and advocates have been working collaboratively with the Secretary of State on revamping the road manual and exam’s bicycle safety content for drivers and bike riders, including adding the Dutch Reach.
Another safety bill (House Bill 4799) that would make biking and walking education a requirement in Illinois schools also passed out of committee on Tuesday. The Bike Walk Education in Schools Act clarifies the existing traffic safety K-8 school curriculum requirement to specifically include biking and walking safety. Illinois crash data shows nearly five children are hit by drivers every day while walking or biking within one block of a school.
“In recent years state legislators and agencies have shown a willingness to work with the bicycling community to improve safety and promote bicycling as a transportation option,” said Ed Barsotti, Chief Programs Officer of Ride Illinois. “These bills are another step forward in making Illinois a more bike-friendly state.”
The pool of questions for the Illinois driver’s license exam currently doesn’t include any questions about the Dutch Reach method or any other bike safety topics. The bill directs the Secretary of State to consider adding multiple questions, including one about the Dutch Reach method.
# # #
About the Active Transportation Alliance
The Active Transportation Alliance is a non-profit, member-based advocacy organization that advocates for walking, bicycling, and public transit to create healthy, sustainable and equitable communities. The organization works to build a movement around active transportation, encourage physical activity, increase safety and build a world-class transportation network. The Active Transportation Alliance has more than 20,0000 members and supporters in the Chicago region. For more information about the Active Transportation Alliance, visit www.activetrans.org or call 312.427.3325.
About Ride Illinois
Ride Illinois is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving bicycling conditions throughout the state. The organization advocates for all Illinois bicyclists, promoting bicycle access, education, and safety. Ride Illinois works with local, state, and federal officials on behalf of bicyclists and advocates for bike friendly road designs and policies; promotes trail development and funding at the local, state, and federal levels; educates officials on how their towns can be bicycle friendly; develops bicycle safety education programs for cyclists and motorists; serves on transportation policy-making committees; proposes legislation and other programs protecting cyclists’ rights on the roads. For more information about Ride Illinois, visit www.rideillinois.org or call 630.978.0583.