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Roughly every three days, one person biking or walking is killed by someone driving a car in the Chicago region.

Biking & walking safety education bill on home stretch

Every day in Illinois, an average of 5 kids are hit by drivers of motor vehicles within one block of a school, and more are hit beyond the school zones.

A bill that would help address this tragic daily occurrence while encouraging more walking and biking has passed the Illinois Senate and now heads to Governor Bruce Rauner for approval.

The Bike Walk Education in Schools Act (HB4799) requires K-8 schools to provide biking and walking safety education. Illinois’ School Code requires automobile safety education, but currently there isn’t a requirement for providing instruction on how to bike and walk safely.

State lawmakers have heard from hundreds of people who support this bill. Kudos to Rep. Sonya Harper and Sen. Mattie Hunter for sponsoring the bill.

We’re optimistic that the governor will make the right choice and approve this legislation.

Over the past thirty years, childhood obesity has tripled in the U.S. and Illinois ranks ninth in the nation in obese adolescents ages 10 to 17. Walking and biking safely helps kids get more physical activity, reducing the risk of obesity and promoting good overall health.

Biking and walking to school not only improve children’s health, but regularly engaging in one of these activities helps kids perform better in school on average. Traveling to school by foot or bike also gives parents more free time and cuts down on traffic congestion.

The Bike Walk Education in Schools Act requires school boards statewide to adopt policies for educating K-8 students about biking and walking safety. School boards determine how best to implement the requirement in their schools.

Another bike safety bill awaits the governor’s signature as well. This bill 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. 

The Dutch Reach method encourages drivers and passengers to reach across their body with their far hand to open car doors after parallel parking, forcing people to look back for approaching cyclists and other traffic before opening the door. Research shows it makes drivers and passengers more aware of approaching cyclists, helping to prevent “dooring” crashes and saving lives.