Early yesterday morning I was riding with a group of about 15 cyclists on our usual route through the north shore suburbs on Sheridan Road. We were under control and riding two abreast when we were pulled over by a Kenilworth police officer. He instructed us to ride single file, that there had been complaints on the road and that this was for our safety as well. We asked if riding single file was a local ordinance. The officer said, no, it was the state law that required riding single file on a road with one lane in each direction (the turn lane doesn't count). He said that if the road is two lanes in either direction, then state law allows cyclists to ride two abreast. When one of our riders said that this is not our understanding of the law, the officer offered to take us to the station and show us the law, which he claimed he has done in the past with other riders. Not having the time to do this, nor wanting to be confrontational, we followed his instructions to continue our ride single file.
So I checked (the internet is a wonderful thing). The Illinois Vehicle Code, Article XV. Bicycles states (all emphasis mine):
(625 ILCS 5/11‑1502) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 11‑1502)
Sec. 11‑1502. Traffic laws apply to persons riding bicycles. Every person riding a bicycle upon a highway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this Code, except as to special regulations in this Article XV and except as to those provisions of this Code which by their nature can have no application.
(Source: P.A. 82‑132.)
(625 ILCS 5/11-1505.1) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 11-1505.1)
Sec. 11-1505.1. Persons riding bicycles or motorized pedal cycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than 2 abreast, except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for their exclusive use. Persons riding 2 abreast shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic and, on a laned roadway, shall ride within a single lane subject to the provisions of Section 11-1505.
(Source: P.A. 83-549.)
There are no provisions in the Illinois Vehicle Code for riding single file based on the number of traffic lanes.
So what do we do? This stretch of Sheridan Road is less than 2/3 of a mile long (from 10th street to Winnetka Road). And yet, we were riding legally and safely, and not impeding traffic in any way. At that time of the morning, we see few cars at all. One cyclist suggested carrying a copy of the code (small format suitable for printing and laminating here) and politely showing it to the officer. Whether or not this works probably depends as much on the situation as your charisma. Will it prevent a future unnecessary interuption of your ride? One can hope.
I have contacted the Active Transportation Alliance (formerly the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation) for their ideas. You can contact them here if you have anything to contribute to this situation.
One year in Colorado
15 hours ago