By Bob Mionske
It always bugs me when I see a rider on a group ride toss a bananapeel on the road. I know he’s littering if he discards the empty gel pack,but does a banana peel constitute litter?
I bugs me too. Maybe that’s why they are called litterbugs?Generally speaking I am not the guy who feels it is his responsibility,or even his right, to “police” scofflaws. However, when a person littersin public, he is polluting the environment, which, of course, belongs tothe multi-national corporations… oops… sorry, I mean all of us.
Ruminating on this subject I am loath to admit that I am as guilty asthose land of Lincoln litterbugs you disdain. In my racing days, I notonly tossed out my unfinished food, but wrappers and cans as well. I rationalized my polluting as excusable because it occurred in the heat of battle- or maybe I thought the broom wagon would “sweep” it up as it trailed the race.
Like us, many citizens in Illinois are bugged by unsightly and unsafeconditions presented by litter along public streets and highways. As ithappens, Illinois addressed the issue of litter on public and state propertystatutorily 30 years ago. The General Assembly passed the “Litter ControlAct,” effective January 1, 1974.
This act makes it a crime to litter on any public or state property.”Litter,” as put forth in the Act, means
“…any discarded, used or unconsumed substance or waste.Litter may include, but is not limited to, any garbage, trash, refuse,debris, rubbish, grass clippings or other lawn or garden waste, newspaper,magazines, glass, metal, plastic or paper containers or other packagingconstruction material, abandoned vehicle (as defined in the Illinois VehicleCode), motor vehicle parts, furniture, oil, carcass of a dead animal, anynauseous or offensive matter of any kind, any object likely to injure anyperson or create a traffic hazard, potentially infectious medical wasteas defined in Section 3.360 of the Environmental Protection Act, or anythingelse of an unsightly or unsanitary nature, which has been discarded, abandonedor otherwise disposed of improperly.”
This list, while it does not specifically cover produce, would seem toinclude your banana peel example, or the occassional apple core. The “LitterControl Act” does not distinguish between biodegradable and non-biodegradableitems. In fact, it takes the time to include items such as garden waste,grass clippings, etc. Thus, the peel could fall into the listed categoryof garbage, trash, refuse, “or anything else of an unsightly nature.” Youmay cite, if you need, 415 ILCS 105/3.
Illinois passed the “Litter Control Act,” officially 415 ILCS 105,in response to what the Assembly determined to be “rapid population growth,the ever-increasing mobility of the population and improper and abusivediscard habits” of the people using the private and public property, includingthe state’s highways and roads. Further determining that “litter is detrimentalto the welfare of the people of this State,” and that the government, industryand public had so far failed to establish effective litter control, theAssembly passed the Act as being necessary to have a uniform litter lawand to provide for strict enforcement of
Well, the next person you see depositing that banana peel in somewhereother than a garbage can or other receptacle, inform them they have justcommitted a class B misdemeanor and could be fined. And here’s the realkicker. A second conviction for littering pushes the offense to a classA misdemeanor, while a third road peel actually becomes a Class 4 felony.
(Research and drafting assistance provided by Richard Drowley-lawstudent-Willamette University School of law)
Now read the fine print:
Bob Mionske is a former competitive cyclist who representedthe U.S. at the 1988 Olympic games (where he finished fourth in the roadrace), the 1992 Olympics, as well as winning the 1990 national championshiproad race.After retiring from racing in 1993, he coached theSaturn Professional Cycling team for one year before heading off to lawschool. Mionske’s practice is now split between personal-injury work, representing professional athletes as an agent and other legal issues facing endurance athletes (traffic violations, contract, criminal charges, intellectual property, etc).If you have a cycling-related legal question, please send it to email@example.comBob will answer as many of these questions privately as he can. He willalso select a few questions each week to answer in this column. Generalbicycle-accident advice can be found at www.bicyclelaw.com.Important notice:
The information provided in the “Legally speaking”column is not legal advice. The information provided on this publicweb site is provided solely for the general interest of the visitors tothis web site. The information contained in the column applies to generalprinciples of American jurisprudence and may not reflect current legaldevelopments or statutory changes in the various jurisdictions and thereforeshould not be relied upon or interpreted as legal advice. Understand thatreading the information contained in this column does not mean youhave established an attorney-client relationship with attorney Bob Mionske.Readers of this column should not act upon any information contained inthe web site without first seeking the advice of legal counsel.