This is a real problem for Chicago bicyclists, and an area that needs real attention from advocacy groups. In short, it is illegal to pass a stopped vehicle on the right. We are expected to pass on the left.
(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:
(a) The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left thereof at a safe distance and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle. In no event shall such movement be made by driving off the pavement or the main traveled portion of the roadway.
(b) Except when overtaking and passing on the right is permitted, the driver of an overtaken vehicle shall give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle on audible signal and shall not increase the speed of his vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.
(c) The driver of a 2 wheeled vehicle may not, in passing upon the left of any vehicle proceeding in the same direction, pass upon the right of any vehicle proceeding in the same direction unless there is an unobstructed lane of traffic available to permit such passing maneuver safely.
(625 ILCS 5/11-704) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 11-704)
Sec. 11-704. When overtaking on the right is permitted.
(a) The driver of a vehicle with 3 or more wheels may overtake and pass upon the right of another vehicle only under the following conditions:
1. When the vehicle overtaken is making or about to make a left turn;
2. Upon a roadway with unobstructed pavement of sufficient width for two or more lines of vehicles moving lawfully in the direction being traveled by the overtaking vehicle.
3. Upon a one-way street, or upon any roadway on which traffic is restricted to one direction of movement, where the roadway is free from obstructions and of sufficient width for 2 or more lines of moving vehicles.
(b) The driver of a 2 wheeled vehicle may not pass upon the right of any other vehicle proceeding in the same direction unless the unobstructed pavement to the right of the vehicle being passed is of a width of not less than 8 feet.
(c) The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass another vehicle upon the right only under conditions permitting such movement in safety. Such movement shall not be made by driving off the roadway. (Source: P.A. 84-873.)
So here is the story - bicyclists can pass on the right only if there is eight feet of unobstructed pavement to the right of the vehicle you are overtaking.
Here is the injustice:
Hypothetical #1: Imagine that you are riding your bicycle Northbound on Milwaukee Avenue on your evening commute home. When you get north of Division the cars are stopped for lights all the way to North Avenue. You cautiously pass between the cars stopped in traffic and the line of parked cars to your right. A passenger in one of the cars stopped in traffic opens their door to exit the vehicle. You try to avoid the door, but it isn't possible. You are doored and injured.
There is no bike lane on Milwaukee between Division and North. There are just those bike route markings that would seem to indicate we are supposed to ride on the right side of the lane. Furthermore, you are familiar with Illinois law which requires bicyclists to ride "as close to the right as practicable (and safe)" (625 ILCS 5/11-1505).
Further, it is illegal to open your door into traffic:
(625 ILCS 5/11-1407) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 11-1407)
Sec. 11-1407. Opening and closing vehicle doors.
No person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so, and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic, nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.
(Source: P.A. 79-1069.)
One might expect under these circumstances that a police officer would ticket the passenger/driver for a violation of 11-1407 (the "dooring" statute), but often what happens in my hypothetical is that the bicyclist is ticketed for passing on the right. Why not? The language of 11-1407 clearly only applies if a door is opened on a side "available to moving traffic." The clear language of 625 ILCS 5/11-703 requires us to pass on the left. If we are prohibited from passing on the right, then the right side of a car stopped on Milwaukee is arguably not "available to moving traffic." Therefore the dooring statute doesn't apply and the officer seems justified in his actions, no matter how absurd the result.
Hypothetical #2: Imagine you are a cyclist overtaking a car at an intersection. The road on which you are traveling has one lane in each direction. You pass on the right because it seems absurd to pass on the left, although that is exactly what Illinois law requires. The driver doesn't see you and right turns into you. Again, if we just look to the letter of the law the police officer seems justified in writing the cyclist a ticket for passing on the right.
Isn't this stupid? Aren't we expected to ride on the right? Isn't that where all the bicycle markings are? Does the State of Illinois really expect bicyclists to pass on the left?