Yesterday I went to court with a bicyclist who had been charged with a violation of Chicago Municipal Code section 9-76-230(a), using a mobile phone while operating a motor vehicle. That section of the Chicago Municipal Code states in relevant part, "no person shall drive a motor vehicle while using a mobile, cellular, analog wireless or digital telephone." The officer's narrative stated that the, "...offender was observed... using his cellphone while driving his bicycle on a city street in traffic."
After I filed my appearance and met with the attorneys for the City we were able to convince them that my client was not operating a "motor vehicle" as was clearly required by the language of the statute. The case was dismissed in its entirety.
On the other hand, my client could have been charged with a violation of 9-52-110(b), which reads in relevant part, "Except as otherwise provided in subsection (c) of this section, no person shall operate a bicycle while using a communication device." A cellphone is included in the definition of a "communication device." Subsection (c) indicates that this section shall not include those people using a hands-free-device. I, for one, have never found a hands free-device that could be used while riding a bicycle. In my experience there is just way too much outside noise and wind.
It is illegal and dangerous to talk on your cell phone while riding a bicycle (unless you are using a hands-free device), but it is the responsibility of the officer and the corporation counsel to know what the proper violation should be. If you've been charged with such a violation please feel free to give us a call.