Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The bike bill is up in the Senate's Local Government Committee now

HB 2390, the bike bill that barely passed the House a few weeks ago, is up in the Senate committee now. Senator John Cullerton is the chief sponsor and praised Elaine Nekritz for a great job getting the bill out and mentioned that they have been working on this for 6 years. Randy Neufeld of the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation testified that the bill is about fixing a problem that the Supreme Court created with a 98 decision striking bicyclists from the list of intended users of roadways. Cullerton said that because of the decision Illinois is the worst state for bicycle policy and the bill will fix the problem. The city's deputy counsel testified that this is a big liability increase for municipalities. So the question is whether the bill is about fixing a disincentive to set up bicycling or whether it is a trial lawyer's dream that creates unlimited liability for bicyclists hurt on local government roads. Cullerton asked for and received a rebuttal after the city's testimony. Neufeld argued that we are simply going back to the pre-1998 status where there was no litigation explosion with a reasonable duty of care extended to bicyclists. Then Senator Cullerton mentioned he votes with the City of Chicago every time they are right - including this time. Senator Maloney is an avid cyclist and he is voting yes. Senator Sandoval says he finds it ironic that our Mayor, a bike aficiando, can oppose the bill. Rosenthal (the city's lawyer) said that he thinks the bill has nothing to do with bikes. Cullerton said the trial lawyers have been against the bill. And there weren't many lawsuits against local governments before 1998 so the bill wouldn't trigger new lawsuits. Neufeld said that the current law is cutting back on bike lanes and safety signs because any municipalities that do this expose themselves to a higher standard of liability. This is a showdown. Lots of suits here. Republicans vote no. Wilhelmi is a no. That's a problem for the bikes. DeLeo is a no. Sandoval is a no. Maloney, Link and Crotty are the yes votes.

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