If, while driving in the state of Illinois, you have felt an uncontrollable urge to mow down a cyclist who insists upon taking up an entire lane on a busy street, slowing traffic to a crawl and just when you have someplace important to go, control thyself. A new law, signed yesterday by Governor Pat Quinn (aka, the Guy Who's Not Blago) makes driving too close to a cyclist a Class A misdemeanor. Hitting the cyclist automatically turns you into a Class 4 felon.
The new law also forbids "projecting or throwing missiles at bicyclists" and helpfully (and hilariously) defines a "missile" as "any object or substance."
The good news: A Class 4 felony is the lowest kind. The bad news: It still gets you between one and three years in the clink.
Related: Illinois will now be selling special "Share the Road" license plates to promote peace and harmony between motorists and cyclists. The plates will cost $22 and sport the slogans "Share the Road" and "Same Rights, Same Rules." The money will go toward educational programs that will teach the two groups how to ride together. (But look which group is footing the bill.)
No word on whether the new plates will show Abraham Lincoln riding a bicycle (although that would be a bit anachronistic since the bicycle as we know it was not invented during Lincoln's lifetime).
Quinn signed these two bills yesterday at the Campbell Street Bicycle Shop in Arlington Heights, Illinois, a Chicago suburb just a few miles from this blogger's hometown.