The Joliet Bicycle Club praises the City of Joliet for having roads with low vehicular traffic and plenty of bike trails, perfect for those who want to travel for work or pleasure by bicycle. However, this alone does not tell the whole story of what it’s like to bike in Joliet, IL

While there are features that can make the city pleasant for bicyclists, as in any other city in Illinois, cycling in Joliet comes with the risks of bicycle accidents.

How Safe Is Bicycling in Joliet, IL?

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), in 2022, there were a total of 19 accidents involving bicyclists in Joliet. Among these collisions, 15 involved bicyclists who sustained injuries. 

Nearly every age group was affected by these bicycle accidents in Joliet, including two individuals between the ages of 50 and 59 who were hurt. Thankfully, no bicyclist was killed in Joliet in 2022.

Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents in Joliet

There were several actions and behaviors identified by IDOT as having contributed to bicycling accidents. 

These included:

  • Riding in the street, either with or against traffic
  • Crossing the street against a traffic control signal
  • Making a right or a left turn
  • Entering the road from an unexpected location

Another factor identified as contributing to bicycle accidents in Joliet included entering the road from a driveway.

Safety Laws Joliet Bicyclists Should Know

There are significant physical differences between a bicycle and a car or truck. Nonetheless, like motor vehicles, bicyclists are subject to state laws that govern their safe operations. 

Laws that bicyclists in Illinois should be aware of include:

Safe Passing Law

By law, a vehicle that is attempting to pass a bicyclist on the road must give that bicyclist at least three feet of clearance while doing so. This is to reduce the risk of a collision between the car or truck and the cyclist. If you are involved in a crash and believe the motorist did not give you sufficient clearance, you may have a legal cause of action against the driver.

You must Ride Your Bicycle on the Right of a Lane

In most situations, you do not need to use bike lanes on the road. However, if you choose not to use these lanes where they are available, or if none are present on the road on which you are riding, you must ride your bicycle as far to the right of a lane of traffic as possible. 

There are a few exceptions to this general rule. For example, you may not need to ride to the right if you are able to keep up with motor vehicle traffic or if you are on a one-way street.

While riding on the road, bicyclists should be aware of cars parked along the road and stay alert for car doors suddenly opening. While motorists are supposed to look for bicyclists before they open their car doors, it is easy for drivers not to do this. This leaves it to you, the bicyclist, to be alert and avoid dangerous collisions with car doors.

Riding Two Abreast

Bicyclists are permitted to ride two abreast on city roads as long as they do so safely and do not impede the normal flow of traffic. Additional bicyclists are not permitted to ride side-by-side, even if they are able to keep up with other traffic and do not get in the way of motor vehicles.

Helmet Requirements

Unlike some other states and communities, there is no requirement for bicyclists of any age to wear a helmet in Illinois. Even young children can ride their bikes without wearing a helmet. 

Nonetheless, wearing a helmet is a good idea for riders of any age. Wearing a properly fitted helmet can significantly reduce the chance of fatal or severe injuries if you are involved in a crash.

No Riding on Sidewalks

Some states leave the question of whether bicyclists can use sidewalks up to individual communities, but Illinois is not one of these states. Bicycling on sidewalks is prohibited throughout Illinois. 

You can only ride your bicycle on roads or on bicycle paths and trails. You may cross over a sidewalk if it is necessary to do so in order to reach a lawful place for you to ride your bike.

Other Significant Traffic Laws

Bicyclists have other obligations to others on the road as well. For example, bicyclists must obey right-of-way laws and follow traffic signs and signals’ directions. Just as a car must use its turn signal to indicate an upcoming turn, bicyclists should use hand signals to indicate when they plan to turn or when they plan to slow down and stop.

Bicycling Infrastructure in Joliet, Illinois

Aside from two bike lanes as of 2022 and plans to add more, the bicycling infrastructure in Joliet is sparse. However, groups like the Joliet Bicycle Club work not only to promote fun and challenging rides throughout the city but also to raise greater awareness of bicycle safety and the needs of bicyclists in the community.

And it appears that city leaders are willing to listen to cyclists. Recently, it was revealed that city leaders planned to consult bicyclists about the locations of additional bicycle lanes in the city. The city has also announced plans to update several of the bicycle trails throughout the city in recent years.

Joliet Bicycling Has Room To Grow

While Joliet’s bicycling infrastructure still has room to grow, there appears to be interest among community members and leaders in continuing to make Joliet more bike-friendly.

In terms of safety, the Joliet Bicycle Club’s observation that the city has roads and paths with low traffic volume seems to be supported by the lack of any bicyclist fatalities in 2022. Even though there were over a dozen bicyclist crashes in 2022, the majority of them resulted in no major injuries.

With a potentially promising safety record and new infrastructure on the table, it is hopeful that Joliet will continue to be a place bicyclists can enjoy.