Now The Big Debate Over What Is A Bicycle…

Background Reading

Summary

Police are searching for the driver of a vehicle that struck 26-year-old avid cyclist Ricardo "Richie" Capistrano in Logan Square on Friday. © Chicago Police; Hector Capistrano (inset)

Police are searching for the driver of a vehicle that struck 26-year-old avid cyclist Ricardo “Richie” Capistrano in Logan Square on Friday. © Chicago Police; Hector Capistrano (inset)


TakeAways

When news of the young man struck by a fleeing driver hit the wire the usual well-deserved outrage fanned across the Chicago ‘Whine and Jeez’ Bicycle Forum. Then began a sudden realization that the fellow was riding this kind of vehicle:

Ricardo Capistrano's bike was recovered by his brothers, and is seen here with damage after the accident. © Hector Capistrano

Ricardo Capistrano’s bike was recovered by his brothers, and is seen here with damage after the accident. © Hector Capistrano

And suddenly the mood of the forum was a bit less comforting. In fact in my own bicycle club one of the members referred to an electric-assist recumbent trike as ‘not a bicycle‘ during an online discussion. Sheesh!

The Next Generation Is Going To Turn Cycling Upside Down

Like it or not anything motorized has an immediate draw for two groups of cyclists:

  • Senior Citizens (especially males)
  • Junior Citizens of Color (especially males)

Along the Illinois Prairie Path last year we encountered three African-American male youths riding just this kind of bike. They were heading eastbound out of Aurora.

Not long after I encountered two senior African-American males riding northbound on the Chicago Lakefront Trail. They had matching electric-assist bicycles that were quite nice looking. Their batteries appeared to be stored in a case that included the seat post.

Even the ride captain of our bike club has an electric-assist recumbent trike (which I mentioned earlier). These kinds of vehicles are legally bicycles. At least for now. Legislatures will no doubt have to come to grips with the fact that bicycle advocacy groups will begin to question whether they belong on the streets in the bike lane.

I will go on record as saying that they do. I am especially fond of the better made electric-assist bicycles and tricycles. These are quiet (for the most part) and work best when used to aid the rider in surmounting steep terrain or go longer distances.

But it is going to be interesting to watch as the Cycling Movement tries to deal with all sorts of ‘bicycles‘ that are not like all the rest. Already the ‘fat bikes‘ have come to the bike trails in and around Chicago. Unlike their slimmer cousins they produce a tire noise that is loud. They in essence cannot sneak up on you from behind.

But I prefer these to ‘fixed gear‘ bikes with no brakes. I view ‘fat bikes‘ as true urban assault vehicles.

But for now the bicycle tribe in Chicago has to make up its mind about the nature of bicycling and just how inclusive it is going to be. It is funny that this s0-called Progressive/Liberal bastion is having trouble with inclusiveness. But hey that is a problem as old as mankind itself. Welcome to the real world.

Public Act 096-0125

SB0236 Enrolled LRB096 03293 AJT 13311 b

AN ACT concerning transportation.

Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
represented in the General Assembly:

Section 5. The Illinois Vehicle Code is amended by adding
Sections 1-140.10, 1-140.15, and 11-1516 and by changing
Section 1-146 as follows:

(625 ILCS 5/1-140.10 new)
Sec. 1-140.10. Low-speed electric bicycle. The term
“low-speed electric bicycle” has the same meaning ascribed to
it by Section 38 of the Consumer Product Safety Act (15 U.S.C.
Sec. 2085).

(625 ILCS 5/1-140.15 new)
Sec. 1-140.15. Low-speed gas bicycle. A 2 or 3-wheeled
device with fully operable pedals and a gasoline motor of less
than one horsepower, whose maximum speed on a paved level
surface, when powered solely by such a motor while ridden by an
operator who weighs 170 pounds, is less than 20 miles per hour.

(625 ILCS 5/1-146) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 1-146)
Sec. 1-146. Motor vehicle. Every vehicle which is
self-propelled and every vehicle which is propelled by electric
power obtained from overhead trolley wires, but not operated
upon rails, except for vehicles moved solely by human power,
and motorized wheelchairs, low-speed electric bicycles, and
low-speed gas bicycles. For this Act, motor vehicles are
divided into two divisions:
First Division: Those motor vehicles which are designed for
the carrying of not more than 10 persons.
Second Division: Those motor vehicles which are designed
for carrying more than 10 persons, those motor vehicles
designed or used for living quarters, those motor vehicles
which are designed for pulling or carrying freight, cargo or
implements of husbandry, and those motor vehicles of the First
Division remodelled for use and used as motor vehicles of the
Second Division.
(Source: P.A. 85-1010.)

(625 ILCS 5/11-1516 new)
Sec. 11-1516. Low-speed bicycles.
(a) A person may operate a low-speed electric bicycle or
low-speed gas bicycle only if the person is at least 16 years
of age.
(b) A person may not operate a low-speed electric bicycle
or low-speed gas bicycle at a speed greater than 20 miles per
hour upon any highway, street, or roadway.
(c) A person may not operate a low-speed electric bicycle
or low-speed gas bicycle on a sidewalk.
(d) Except as otherwise provided in this Section, the
provisions of this Article XV that apply to bicycles also apply
to low-speed electric bicycles and low-speed gas bicycles.

Effective Date: 1/1/2010