(d) Whenever a usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a roadway, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the roadway.For you Chicagoans racking your brains to think of a place where this situation may exist, consider North Humboldt Drive. Between North Avenue and Augusta Boulevard, a distance of about a mile, Humboldt Drive slices through Humboldt Park, one of the most beautiful parks in the city. The scenery is wonderful, with ball fields, duck ponds, trees and even a beach. However, it is a very dangerous road on which to ride a bike. The pavement is usually in poor condition, and there is no shoulder on this narrow four lane street. But, there is a path that runs immediately adjacent to Humboldt Drive on the southbound side of the road. Take a look:
Arguably, when riding southbound on Humboldt Drive between North and Augusta the cyclist must exit the roadway and utilize the path instead. I must admit that section 9-52-020 does not make this perfectly clear. The municipal code does not define the term "usable path for bicycles". Does it mean any path on which a bike could possibly travel? Or, does it mean a path specifically designated for bicycles? The path depicted in the video above is not just a bicycle path. It is used by pedestrians as well. That ambiguity aside, it is certainly possible that a citation issued to a cyclist for riding in the road rather than the path could withstand judicial scrutiny. That may not be a bad thing either. I am certainly an proponent of cyclists' rights to use the roadway. However, when I have seen bicyclists on southbound Humboldt Drive not utilizing the path just the their right, I cringe. It is just a dangerous place to be.
I should point out that a sidewalk is not a "usable path for bicycles." Section 9-52-020 is explicit that, "No person 12 or more years of age shall ride a bicycle upon any sidewalk in any district, unless such sidewalk has been officially designated and marked as a bicycle route." Illinois bicyclists absolutely may ride in the street even if there is an adjacent sidewalk present.