toro 030624SPRINGFIELD — After a 16-year-old in her district was struck and killed by a car while riding his bike, State Senator Natalie Toro has been working to improve the safety features of Chicago bike lanes to prevent further tragedies. Her new bill, which prioritizes cyclist safety, passed the Senate Transportation committee, bringing it one step closer to becoming law.

“Biking should be a safe pastime for kids—not something that could end up getting them killed,” said Toro (D-Chicago). “It is horrific to think that children—like 16-year-old Josh Anleu—who are just trying to visit their friends or a local park never make it home because of unsafe bike lanes. Something has to change, and I believe this initiative is the first step to better protect our bikers.” 

Chicagoans frequently use maps of existing bike lanes when planning a safe route via bikes throughout their community. However, under existing law, “bike lanes” have a variety of definitions—including lanes safely blocked off from motor traffic with barriers, but also lanes only separated by drawn lines that may be utilized by parked cars or people pulling over. Without more transparency about the safety features of designated “bike lanes,” cyclists, including children like Josh Anleu who was killed by a motorist, may choose routes without knowing they may be much closer to motorists without barriers to protect them—lanes that report significantly more accidents and injuries to bikers.

Under this new initiative, local governments would be required to update maps of the existing bikeways with classifications of bike lanes that specify the safety features and degree of separations between motorists in each lane, which would allow cyclists to make informed decisions on the routes they take.

Senate Bill 3202 would also allow cities and counties to create bicycle transportation plans. These plans may include estimating the number of cyclists coming through the area, allowing planners and developers to use a data-informed approach when determining the number of bike lanes needed and potential new routes.

“Bicycle transportation plans will highlight safe routes and improve existing bike lanes, especially as we’ve seen an uptick in accidents involving cyclists,” said Toro. “I look forward to seeing improved infrastructure for cyclists that keeps our community safe.”

Senate Bill 3202 passed the Senate Transportation committee on Tuesday. It now goes to the Senate floor for further discussion.