Tragedy has again struck the family of a Chicago cyclist. This time the tragedy is compounded by the fact that the bicyclist was a 13-year old boy. On Sunday, June 28th, a driver struck Isaac Martinez while the boy was riding his bike in the Southwest Side neighborhood of Ashburn. The crash occurred around 6:50 p.m. when it was still daylight on that summer evening.
According to reports, Isaac was riding his bicycle southbound on South Lawndale Avenue when he was struck by a work van travelling in the same direction. Family members were nearby at the time of the crash. Disturbingly, the driver of the work van then fled the scene. The driver was later arrested based on local surveillance video and arrested.
“Improper Passing” of a Bicyclist: The 3-Foot Rule
According to news reports based on the police’s investigation, the driver struck the bicyclist from the rear. Regardless of intended action, if there was contact between the semi-truck and the bicyclist then there was a violation of the “3-Foot Rule” which is based on sub-paragraph (d) of Section 11-703 of the Illinois Rules of the Road. This statute provides as follows:
(625 ILCS 5/11‑703) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 11‑703)
Sec. 11‑703. Overtaking a vehicle on the left. The following rules govern the overtaking and passing of vehicles proceeding in the same direction, subject to those limitations, exceptions, and special rules otherwise stated in this Chapter:
(d) The operator of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle or individual proceeding in the same direction on a highway shall leave a safe distance, but not less than 3 feet, when passing the bicycle or individual and shall maintain that distance until safely past the overtaken bicycle or individual.
The 3-Foot Rule is often misconstrued as requiring just three feet at the moment of passing on a roadway. The Illinois vehicle law actually requires a minimum of 3 feet between the bicycle and the motor vehicle when the motorist passes the bicyclist. In addition, the driver must maintain a distance of at least three feet until the motorist is “safely past” the overtaken bicyclist.
Illinois Laws Require Drivers To Give Aid To Injured Bicyclists
It is also the law in Illinois for drivers to render aid to an injured bicyclist. Drivers in Illinois who are involved in a crash are legally required to:
- Stay at the scene of the crash long enough to provide the injured party with their information; and
- If necessary or if requested to arrange for medical care for the injured bicyclist.
Section 11-401(a) of the Illinois Vehicle Code provides the groundwork for the motorist:
“The driver of any vehicle involved in a motor vehicle accident resulting in personal injury to or death of any person shall immediately stop such vehicle at the scene of such accident, or as close thereto as possible and shall then forthwith return to, and in every event shall remain at the scene of the accident until the requirements of Section 11-403 have been fulfilled.“
Beyond the law, there is a fundamental human need for all users of the roadways to assist one another. The act of a hit-and-run is indefensible. The driver involved in this crash should face certain justice, especially given the age and vulnerability of the victim in this matter.
The legal issues aside, our sincere thoughts and prayers are with the family of Isaac Martinez. A vigil will be held tonight at the intersection of Columbus Avenue and South Lawndale Avenue from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. A “human protected bike lane” was held yesterday.
Keating Law Offices is the premiere personal injury law firm representing victims of bicycle accidents in Illinois. The firm is based in Chicago, Illinois and represents clients throughout Illinois. If you have any questions regarding this post or have a question regarding personal injury law, please contact Illinois Bicycle Attorney Mike Keating at 312-239-6787 (Office) or 312-208-7702 (Nights/Weekends).
Our staff and operators are available around the clock. You can also email Mike@KeatingLegal.com 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All e-mails and phone calls are returned promptly. All initial consultations are confidential and free.