CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — Former Urbana City Clerk and Councilman Charlie Smyth loves to bike, but even he knows the dangers that come with riding on the same road as cars, trucks, and semis.
“You don’t always see somebody in a mirror and you can’t hear a car coming up if it’s windy,” says Smyth. “That’s the other factor. Those are the precautions I take, bright clothing, lights, helmet, mirror.”
But Smyth wants those in the vehicles to do a better job protecting them. That is why his petition is calling for stricter punishments for those who injure bicyclists. The petition comes just one week after another bicyclist was killed this year by a semi-truck in Champaign County.
“When you’re passing a bicyclist, it’s different,” says Smyth. “If you see the bicyclist you’re making a conscious decision to pass that bicyclist and you have to do it in a safe manner. Anything less than safe is frankly to me, reckless.”
The petition started on Saturday morning and already has over 1,300 signatures. It is addressed to Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Reitz. Smyth says in the petition that the State of Illinois allows drivers to be charged more appropriately.
“Appropriate enforcement of the existing vulnerable user law in the state of Illinois needs to be done,” says Smyth. “We have a three feet passing law and it needs to be enforced. Otherwise why would the legislature have written it?