"I will remind our staff of the rule as it applies to bicycles"
Says the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Coordinator.
My recent little bit of bicycle advocacy:
I went for a ride at a nearby state park last weekend. Beautiful area with several paths which I enjoyed. As I was riding on the road within the park, an official in a pickup truck stopped me and said I needed to ride my bicycle on the path which winds through the park. I complied, and jumped on the path at the next opportunity. I ended up having to get back on the road in order to quickly exit the park, and fortunately didn't meet up with this official again.
A few days later, I sent the following email to the state park.
Originally Posted by email to park
Dear Moraine Hills state park officials,
Thank you for your efforts in supplying us, the public, with a fine park to enjoy. I hope the ongoing government shutdown is not causing you any hardships.
Last Sunday, October 15th, I was riding my bike in Moraine Hills state park around 6pm, and was stopped by a park ranger (not sure, he never identified himself) in a white pickup truck. He told me I could only ride my bike on the trail, not on the road. I didn’t argue with him, and moved onto the trail at the next available opening.
The ranger mentioned that I was “holding up cars.” Does he stop drivers who travel at 10-15 MPH in a 20 MPH zone? I’m pretty sure he does not, and a bike is much easier to pass than a slow moving car.
He also made mention of his request being for my safety. I am an adult who obeys the rules of the road and has ridden on 45 MPH roads during peak periods for years without any safety issues. I can assure him that any concern for my safety on sparsely trafficked 20 mph park roads is highly unfounded.
Is riding a bike according to the rules of the road in the park not allowed? There are no signs posted of this that I have seen. Also, the park website makes no mention of this being the case. Maybe this was just an arbitrary ruling on behalf on this ranger?
Thank you for your time and I look forward to your response.
A few days later, I was pleasantly surprised when I received the following email from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Coordinator.
Originally Posted by email from IDNR
Thank you for your inquiry and your kind understanding that our park ranger meant well. You are correct. It is legal to ride on park roads as long as you follow the rules of the road for bicycles (i.e., follow proper lane usage and speed limits). I will remind our staff of IDNR's rule as it applies to bicycles:
Section 110.165 Bicycles - Operation on Roadway - Designated Trails (from MAY 1, 2013; 17 ILL. ADM. CODE; CH. I, SEC. 110)
It shall be unlawful for any person to ride a bicycle except on a roadway designated for vehicular use, parking lot, or posted bicycle trail or in a direction opposite of a posted one-way trail. An authorized employee of the Department may close the trail for safety reasons or to prevent damage to the trail or natural resources.
(Source: Amended at 29 Ill. Reg. 2268, effective January 28, 2005)
Again, thank you for your considerate correspondence,
Natural Resources Coordinator
Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Moraine Hills State Park, Satellite Office
1510 S. River Road
McHenry, Illinois 60051
Yay! I plan to reply to Stacy tomorrow, thanking her for her attention to this matter.
So... you approached a public official in a manner that displayed an understanding of their working lives and made a polite request which was promptly answered in a similar polite and considerate tone.
You want to watch that, it could spread and then where would we be?
Had a vaguely similar incident. My wife and I often pass through a state park and pull off into the parking lot and walk over to a fountain refill our water bottles. There are a number of signs that say no bicycles , which of course we interpreted as meaning none in the park, not none in the parking lot. (a reasonable restriction for this park, IMO). A ranger pulled over and told us we had to leave. Having filled our bottles, we complied. I contacted the state parks department via email and they responded saying the ranger was wack and that they'd straighten him out. I don't know if they did, but we haven't been hassled since.
I have yet to experience such a civil exchange regarding my cycling rights. But then, over the last 6 years, there have been precious few infringements, either!
Thinking back, it was with some relish that I recall a newspaper article that seemed to get that ball rolling; gas prices were just BEGINNING to rise, and people were already riding bikes, scooters, buses, all to save gas money. The article printed out the city's AND the state's laws about riding in the streets, and it was almost immediately that I saw a change in the habits of drivers. Our pro-cycling mayor has built well ON that, too.
Literally, the number of BUZZES, honks, and shouts from drivers have reduced to 1/50 of what they were. And this is from a rider who rides 300+ days a year, regardless of the weather.