Last October, Chicago Council passed a ban making it illegal for bicyclist to ride their bicycle while on their cell phone on the roadway. This includes texting and talking on the cell phone. On February 8, the 97th General Assembly of the State of Illinois voted 5-4 by the House Transportation Committee sanctioned the ban making it illegal to use an electronic communication device while riding a bicycle in Illinois! The bill, titled House Bill 3849, was introduced originally back on October 19, 2011 by Rep. Kelly M. Cassidy. It stated that an electronic communication device would be defined as, “…including but not limited to a wireless telephone, personal digital assistant, or a portable or mobile computer while being used for the purpose of composing, reading or sending an electronic message, but does not include a global positioning system or navigation system or a device that is physically or electronically integrated into the motor vehicle”.
This ban applies to any person operating a motor vehicle or bicycle on a roadway using an electronic communication device to compose, send or read an electronic message. There are a few exclusions to this new ban. First, this does not apply to law enforcement while performing his or her official duties. Second, while using an electronic communication device for the sole purpose of reporting an emergency situation and continued communication with emergency personnel. Third, while using an electronic device in hands-free or voice-activated mode. Fourth, while reading a message displayed on a permanently installed communication device designed for a commercial vehicle with a screen that does not excess 10 inches wide. Fifth and sixth, are very similar which includes if the vehicle is parked on the shoulder or in neutral or parked. This can be read in further detail HERE.
Coincidently, several groups of bicyclist have been pushing for such a ban to be placed to prevent the number of accidents. However, there are a few concerns regarding the new ban as expressed by state Rep. Don Moffitt. Moffitt was quoted in The Pantagraph stating, “I just have some concerns about how far we’re reaching. This is a concern. One more regulation”. Is the state pushing bans to far? I asked myself this same question! One interesting article I found about the dangers of texting while cycling involved a 16-year-old boy in Owen Sound. Ontario. The boy was riding his bicycle without a helmet and hit the rear of a parked vehicle. He was ejected from the bicycle, striking and smashing the rear window. In the article, Police spokesman Stephen MacKinnon states, “You need to be careful and have your wits about you and what you’re doing, because you can walk into things as well as ride into things”. He also stated the boy was treated at a local hospital for some scratches and was then charged with careless driving. In another article, ER doctors discuss their rising number of encounters with injuries from people trying to text and do something else at the same time. Another interesting case showcased in this article was of a 39-year-old man who suffered a head injury after crashing his bicycle into a tree while attempting to ride and text.
I realized the danger of texting and driving after seeing the numerous reports showing texting and driving causes more accidents then intoxication. I like many of you am guilty of texting while I drive every now and then but I never considered the danger of texting while riding a bicycle or walking for that matter. Although it sounds silly, like people would use common sense before texting on their bicycle of course they do not. A study done in 2010 by the faculty of Behavioral and Social Sciences in Experimental Psychology at University of Groningen showed that text messaging had the largest negative impact on cycling performance compared to listening to music or just cycling. So next time you think about cycling keep your cell phone put away!