October 04, 2011

Chicago Considering Ban on Texting While Cycling


If you like to “bike and text,” you may be out of luck soon, at least if you're a Chicago resident.

Chicago's City Council is considering implementing a ban on text messaging while riding a bicycle on city streets, reported the Associated Press (News - Alert).

Should the ban go into effect, bicyclist would have to follow rules similar to motorists and would be barred from text messaging or talking on cell phones without a hands-free device. The City Council's Traffic Safety Committee has endorsed the ban.

The full council is scheduled to consider the ban tomorrow, and if it's approved, the law would go into effect in November of this year. Those breaking the law could be ticketed by police from $20 to $50 for a first offense. Repeat offenses could earn the bicycler a ticket of $75 to $100, and the fine could go as high as $500 if the bicyclists' behavior led to a traffic accident.

The ban is being sponsored by Chicago Alderman Margaret Laurino, who has said that it will “level the playing field between motorists and bicyclists.”

“Like drivers, bicyclists will not be able to text while moving. Nor will bicyclists be able to use their cell phones unless they utilize a hands-free device,” she said.

The city's transportation officials are saying that the ordinance will address a behavior that has led to crashes and accidents in the past. Laurino said that in 2010 alone, cyclists were involved in more than 1,600 crashes leading to five deaths (though she doesn't say if those cyclists were texting while riding).

Bicycle advocate Adolfo Hernandez (News - Alert) told the Associated Press he supports the measure.

“We’ve been looking out for cyclists rights for more than the past 25 years,” said Hernandez. “Even we are in complete support of the this bike text ban ordinance. It makes complete sense. . . . As users of the road, we have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists.”




Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell
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