Tag Archive: cell phone ban

New law in Chicago: Texting while biking = Ticket

A couple of weeks ago, the Chicago city council began discussion on a proposal that bans texting while bicycling.

“This ordinance basically levels the playing field between motorists and bicyclists,” said Ald. Margaret Laurino, 39th, chairman of the committee and sponsor of the measure. “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.”

I’m all for safe bicycling, and the cycling folks in Chicago have a great discussion on this topic going on via the Chainlink – an online bicycling community for Chicago cyclists.

Some of the comments are thoughts I’ve had myself:

“I would have hoped that it would have just occurred to people that this is a really bad idea, and refrained from doing it.”

“Too bad on a bike you’re much more visible than when your in a vehicle.”

“Bikes might be more visible than motorists.
Do they ever ticket texting motorists?
On Saturday I saw a cop texting while driving his SUV police “car”.”

Does common sense need to legislated?
Will this legislation end up targeting cyclists more?
Will the laws against texting and driving AND against talking on a cell phone be enforced more for motorists now?

Chicago really is on the forefront of paving the way (literally) for better cycling conditions in Chicago, including 100-miles of protected bike lanes in the next four years. But I have to wonder if this kind of legislation runs counterintuitive to progress.

A journalism instructor at DePaul University and his class recently posted about the proposed Chicago cell phone ban for cyclists to The Red Line Project, a student-run online site. Please cast your vote on their Poll on Cell Phone Ban for Cyclists.

A Big Thank You to Chicago’s Finest

This morning near the end of my commute I saw something that made me smile … and I even pulled over to document it and share the occasion with you.

After a morning commute dealing with cars in the bike lanes and cars passing too closely, I was starting to ponder getting a video camera set-up and recording the hazards I encounter on a commute. Then, as I was heading east on Chicago Ave, I saw three bike police officers riding toward me. All of a sudden one of the officers did a u-turn. I had just stopped for a traffic light and thought he might be turning around to talk to me – “after all of my complaints about cars, had I done something wrong?”

But he bypassed me and he pulled his bike in front of a cab that was in the lane waiting to turn right and yelled to me – “He’s on a cell phone!” Surprised at first, I quickly shouted a “Thank You!” back to him as he proceeded with his official ticketing duties. Chicago instituted a law (categorized not as a moving violation, but as an equipment offense) against driving while using a handheld cell phone back in 2005, and apparently the city has even increased the imposed fine this year. Never have I seen this cell phone ban enforced and the enforcement has been debated over the years.

Of course I had to pull around onto the sidewalk and capture this fine moment. By the time I got my camera out, his backup had turned around and come back as support.

When he’d received the driver’s license and registration, he pulled his bike off the road and told me he wanted copies of my photos. Well, here you go, Officer.

Last January the Washington Post reported about the National Safety Council’s plan to lobby for a nationwide cell phone ban. But the law is only as good as the law enforcement.

Now I’m happy I can finally report that I’ve seen Chicago’s cell phone ban enforced. Thank you, Officer.