When the weather gets warm in the Midwest, biking becomes a favorite family activity. Whether you love to head out with your kids on the weekend or bike as a form of exercise, you should know the traffic laws that apply to cyclists in Illinois.

These are the most important guidelines to know since the state updated its bike safety laws in 2018.

Mandated safety equipment

All bikes must have:

  • A clear reflector at the front
  • Reflectors on the pedals
  • A red reflector visible up to 600 feet away at the rear
  • Reflectors mounted on the wheels
  • A correctly adjusted seat that fits the rider
  • A horn or bell that others can hear from at least 100 feet away
  • Brakes that work correctly
  • Smooth, reliable gears
  • Securely attached handlebars and accessories

If you ride after dark, your bike must have a front light that others can see from a minimum of 500 feet away.

Traffic laws

If you ride on the road in Illinois, you must follow the same laws that apply to motor vehicle drivers. The law prohibits riding in the opposite direction of traffic. You should stay as far to the right as possible unless you are avoiding an obstacle or making a left turn. Yield to pedestrians who are crossing the street.

If you decide to ride on the sidewalk, give pedestrians the right of way. If you are behind a person walking, alert him or her with a horn or oral warning. Approach and pass pedestrians slowly if possible.

Hand signals

You should signal to drivers and pedestrians at intersections, whether you intend to turn or proceed straight ahead. To signal a left turn, hold your left arm out straight. For a right turn, either hold the right arm out straight or bend the left elbow at a 90-degree angle upward. If you plan to stop, hold out your left arm and bend the elbow downward at a 90-degree angle.