Bicycle Helmet Laws in Chicagoland – Part II

The Bicycling Accident & Injury Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. continue our discussion on bicycle helmet laws in Chicagoland communities. The need for clarity on this topic extends from several key observations, which we feel have contributed to the difficulty in understanding whether or not the use of a helmet while bicycling is required by law. As discussed in Part I, these issues include: distinguishing between state and local law; multiple failed attempts to enact statewide legislation; recent/ongoing amendments to local laws; improper information provided through online resources; and general lack of resources that compile statewide data.

First and foremost, it is important to know, that as of the date of this post, there are no statewide laws regarding helmet use that apply universally to all types of bicyclists, or all areas of Illinois. However, there are many areas have enacted local laws pertaining to helmet use, including legal requirements based upon age or type of road user, as well as those that are strictly incentive-based.

Age-based Helmet Use Laws
Chicagoland communities that require the use of helmets based upon age, have set forth such regulations using language substantially similar to the following format:

Every person under the age of [16,17,18] shall:

  1. wear a protective helmet;
  2. that meets the standards of American National Standards Institute; American Society for Testing and Materials; Snell Memorial Foundation, Inc.; other nationally recognized standards;
  3. whenever the bicyclist is
    • upon a public highway, sidewalk, bicycle path or other public right of way within the corporate limits of the [city, town, village] and is riding; or
    • being carried on any bicycle or any carrier attached to or pulled by a bicycle.

As of 2014, the following local helmet-use laws were in effect, grouped according to age:

  • Under the age of 18:
  • Evanston (City Code of Ordinances, sec. 10-9-5)
  • Under the Age of 17:
    • Oak Park (Village Code, sec. 15-2-23)
  • Under the age of 16:
    • Barrington (Village Code, sec. 6-6-5)
    • Cicero (Town Code of Ord., sec. 94-542)
    • Inverness (Village Code sec. 11-1-9)
    • River Forest (Village Code, sec. 9-4-8)
    • Skokie (Village Code of Ord., sec. 106-233(d))

    Road-use based Bicycle Helmet Laws
    In some areas of Chicagoland, bike messengers are required to use helmets when operating a messenger service, or carrying out the duties as an employee for a messenger service. In particular, Chicago requires the use of helmets for messenger services being operated with the central district pursuant to Chicago’s Municipal Code of Ordinance, sec. 4-168-070.

    Incentive based
    In contrast to local law which require the use of helmets, some areas of Illinois have bicycle helmet-use ordinances that are incentive-based. For example, sec 23-101 of Libertyville’s Municipal Code provides:

    The chief of police shall direct police officers to periodically conduct educational programs and offer incentives to youths wearing appropriate helmets and safety equipment while bicycling.

    The Bicycle Accident Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. support local efforts aimed at increasing the use of bike helmets, particularly for children, whether regulatory or incentive based. According to the ICAAP Bicycle Helmet Fact Sheet, created in support of recent attempts to enact a statewide child helmet-use law, nearly 90% of middle-school aged children reported riding a bike within the past 12 months. However, despite the fact that nearly three-quarters of all fatal bike crashes involve head injury, less than 25% of children wear bicycle helmets.

    If you were the victim of a bicycling-related accident, let our experienced team of Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers review your matter and explain your legal rights to financial compensation. Contact us online, or by calling 773-516-4100.