Inline Skaters Allowed on Roads in Illinois
A new law went into effect in Illinois on Jan. 1 that allows inline skaters, who had previously been confined to the sidewalks, to skate in the road.
Skate Club Behind Change
Under the new statute, skaters 18 years and older can skate on roads in cities with populations below 2 million – taking Chicago out of the picture. They are also restricted to daylight hours and 45-mph roads, and they cannot “impede or obstruct other vehicular traffic.”
“All we wanted to do was be able to use the bike lane on the streets,” said Elmhurst, Ill., attorney Ben Neiburger, who spearheaded the effort to change the law. Members of a speedskating club to which he belongs had gotten several tickets for skating on the roads, he tells Lawyers.com.
So Neiburger decided to get the law changed. Former state Rep. Chris Nybo of Elmhurst, a suburb of Chicago, sponsored the bill.
Speed Skaters Need Speed
No one had been injured on sidewalks by the skaters, Neiburger says, “but the skaters go 25 mph, and that isn’t safe on a sidewalk.” He explains that the law previously required skaters to either use the sidewalk or skate against traffic, as if they were pedestrians.
“This isn’t safe if you are on skates going 20 mph, and the car is coming at you going 30 mph,” he says.
Inline skaters are still allowed on the sidewalks, but it’s apparently not something they relish. “The law makes the skater a special kind of pedestrian who can use the bike lane on the roadway,” Neiburger explains. “Accordingly, all the pedestrian rules and protections still apply. I still wouldn’t dream of skating on the sidewalks.”
And there are still issues to be pondered once you don your inline skates. If you “impede or obstruct other vehicular traffic” under the law, a ticket for a moving violation is possible.
Compromise Was Key
Doesn’t it seem dangerous to allow people who are only on skates to ride with traffic?
“There was a concern, especially for slow skaters and children,” Neiburger says of the bill’s process through the legislative process. “This is why the legislation limits the types of skates (speed skates only) and applies to people over the age of 18.”
Also of concern were skaters imitating bikers and crossing over lanes of traffic to turn left. There were also complaints about the need for reflective clothing. Neiburger says the law was tied up in committee with such issues, but it finally made it out with several compromises.
“The skaters on the street now just need to be vigilant,” he adds. “I think they are safer now on the streets than on the sidewalks or going against traffic.”