The Chainlink

Google Map of the street Luster Jackson was killed on. 

At 6:48 p.m., 58-year-old Luster Jackson was riding his bicycle north in the 7200 block of South Stony Island when he veered to avoid an open car door and was hit by another vehicle that was traveling north, according to Chicago Police and the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Luster swerved to avoid a door only to be hit by a car. It is hard to read the article and not be completely infuriated at how many points of failure are involved here:

1. No bike infrastructure - no bike lane on a 4-lane one-way road in which there's plenty of room (see Google Map). 

2. Too many lanes - There is likely a lot of speeding on the road due to the road having too many lanes (motorists tend to speed on wide streets and this street has four lanes).

3. Motorist shouldn't have been so close to the bike (3 feet rule) - just look at the photo and you'll see there's plenty of safe space so the driver was likely way too close to the cyclist. And yet, his "death was ruled an accident" and "driver of the vehicle that fatally struck Jackson was issued a citation, police said."

4. Parked motorist opened door, forcing bike into traffic - this driver is also at fault. 

Where is the value for human life? What about the driver that doored Luster?

The city has promised Vision Zero and promisesd more bike lanes on South and West sides - Where are they?

Could you imagine having this poor of a set up on the North Side? Why haven't bike lanes been adequately built? This is what happens when they aren't AND when police ticket bike riders (mainly on South Side, mainly people of color) that are forced onto sidewalks for their safety. 

Luster Jackson is a part of the Chicago cycling family because he was riding a bike. Rest in peace Luster.  Riding your bike in Chicago, you deserved much safer streets and much safer riding conditions.

We all need to demand that all of our cyclists can safely ride their bikes to get to where they are going. Not just one area, all areas of the city. 

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"4. Parked motorist opened door, forcing bike into traffic - this driver is also at fault. 

Where is the value for human life? What about the driver that doored Luster?"

Indeed! Isn't there an ordnance about dooring?

There's a $1000 fine for dooring.  Why wasn't a ticket issued?

Perhaps because the cyclist wasn't actually struck by the parked car door?

The ordinances at issue don't require that you actually hit a cyclist- you can get cited for opening your door when it wasn't safe to do so, and for "interfering with traffic" which is what happened here, and you can be cited for causing the bike to swerve and hit another car.

Chicago Ordinance 9-4-025 section c-2

Any person who violates Section 9-80-035 of this Code, when such violation causes a collision between a motor vehicle and a bicycle, shall be subject to a fine of $1000.00 for each offense.

§ 9-80-035  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.

OK. Thanks, VW, for the clarification. However, there is much we don't know about the accident since the Sun-Times article is so threadbare.  We are left speculating. From whose perspective is this account of the accident based? Bystander? Moving vehicle operator? The car door perp? The dead man? How often does CPD issue violations for dooring?

No prob. My guess is the CPD conveniently compiles their data in a way that would make it difficult to ascertain. For example, if doorings in which CPD are called happen 1000x per year, and the officer opts to write them up as an "incident report" instead of an accident report 9 times out of 10 (which, from what I've heard and experienced, is their unofficial policy) then maybe they write up 100 doorings but it doesn't tell you about the other 900 opportunities they purposefully missed- it doesn't give you the ratio of missed opportunities. Excuse my cynicism, but that's my 2 cents.

No excuse necessary. Given the department's abysmal /outrageous clearance rate (or should we call it the "failure rate"?) on homicide cases, I have no reason to believe that issuing citations for doorings to be a priority.

And let's not forget that Ald. Hairston rejected a proposal that would have brought bike lanes down Stony Island.

Furthermore, the Sun-Times needs to hire reporters who are familiar with the south side -- this was NOT in the Grand Crossing neighborhood. It's South Shore south of 71st and Woodlawn north.

This is an aside, but it's part of why I hate it when wrong way cyclists try to pass me on the right. They can see the cars coming and I can't, and they want me to veer into possible traffic (I can't see) so they don't have to. Obviously the danger of veering into traffic you can't see is very real.

And yes, shame this guy died, shame there's a slap on the wrist to the driver, and apparently no consequences to the person in the parked car. And it's a shame there's hardly any news coverage of this.

Read the Block Club article repeatedly and I do not follow your conclusion. As I vaguely recall, there were multiple bike lane proposals. This article doesn't really go there. It simply included an illustration, in which I fail to see how Luster would have rolled into oncoming traffic in that picture. Furthermore, the description of the dooring and collision is far from conclusive. The reader is left to fill in the empty gaps in the accounting.

As experienced a city cyclist as anyone (14 years as a bike messenger in a past life PLUS nearly 40,000 miles in the last 4 years, mostly in the city, as a civilian), I have brass balls when it comes to riding the streets of Chicago. Personally, I don't need bike infrastructure and have qualms about many of the existing bike lanes. But bike infrastructure encourages more cycling in general, which I wholeheartedly support. Furthermore, I ride Stony. Stony is NOT for the timid. Stony needs bike lanes. And a bike lane might have saved Luster's life.

Thanks for your perspective Curtis. I do believe this has a lot to do with being a wide street, 4 lanes each way. It encourages speeding and makes it less safe for people that ride their bikes. If they went down to three lanes each way and added a bike lane, I believe this could have been prevented - there could have been a safety buffer between the cyclist and the doors. As I mentioned in my comments, this was multiple points of failure in which poor infrastructure and bad motorists caused the death of a cyclist. 

1. No bike lane on a busy street with too many lanes for traffic

2. Parked motorist swings door open

3. No buffer zone for cyclists riding next to parked cars

4. motorist driving on street did not provide 3 feet clearance when passing cyclist, leaving cyclist no room for error in case of being doored, avoiding potholes, etc. 

Bike lanes and the laws meant to protect cyclists need to be followed and enforced in order to protect. 



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