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That is wonderfully written and eloquent letter! I hope the article is again revised to reflect these important points.


I found this excellent PSA about dooring.  How can we spread it far and wide?

I think this is how we identify where to begin education efforts

Kristy Lapidus and Anne Alt:

I don't really know how organizing it would work, but I thought next Friday might work well. I'll send a message to your Chainlink emails.


Kristy Lapidus said:

I agree Melissa.

Melissa M said:

Might it also be a good idea to gather for a memorial on a weekday morning around the time that it occurred? We could wear white shirts and gather (on the sidewalk?) at the site. It just seems like being there at the time when the area is busiest is a good time to remind people to check for cyclists (and other traffic) before opening their doors.

here's mine:

Hello, Colleen. I saw your story and headline about the cyclist at Oak & Wells. I was distressed to read the head with the quote from his boss: "he did have a lot of close calls." I'm sure you've heard protest from the boss quoted, rightly so as the obvious implication runs along "crazy risk-taking cyclist damages car door." I too often see stories reporting a tragedy misplacing responsibility on the cyclist.

As a cyclist and driver both, I can tell you we all have a lot of close calls whatever our choice of transportation. From the content of your story it seems the cyclist was without fault in the circumstances of his death. Yet the headline departs from that conclusion. From reader comments from other sources (mercifully, yours seems to have been turned off), there are too many comments along the line of "serves him right" or "roads are for cars."

What I would like to see in future reporting is awareness of shared dangers and responsibilities among us. A driver who hits a cyclist has a dented fender; the cyclist has a prematurely truncated life. 

best wishes, BWM

Julie Hochstadter said:

Yeah. The title says , "he did have a lot of close calls."
. Why they had to highlight that one stupid sentence.
April said:

Here is the reporter's email: ,

Someone, please write them and tell them their story was terribly biased and point out door safety.  I need to get back to work and this should be done as soon as possible.  Thanks!!

Well said.    

Kristy Lapidus said:

Here is the letter I wrote to the Trib:

Dear Colleen,

While your report of this morning's tragic accident on Wells focused touchingly on Neill's work relationships and who he was as a person, it also misrepresented the facts of the situation.

The bottom line is that the Wells Street bike lane is not safe. That lane is way to close to the car parking lane. The guy who opened the door should have looked but it is, tragically, so easy to forget. That is why we need more infrastructure to support safe transit for all methods of transportation that our citizens choose - walking, biking, public transit, and driving an automobile. This should be a wake-up call to all those naysayers out there who complain about the new protected bike lanes. WE NEED THEM! We need them to protect those who choose to ride bikes, like poor Neill. We need them to protect people who choose to drive cars and open their doors. We need them for semi-drivers who must deliver in the city. This tragedy affects not only the person on the bike who so sadly lost his life but everyone involved. We need protected bike lines to protect all of us. Not just those on bikes.

Now is the time to call attention to the hazardous conditions of the infrastructure that cause terrible tragedies such as this - not to focus on supposed risky behavior by a man hit and killed on the road today. Have you ever ridden a bike in the city? Do you know how difficult it is to avoid an opening door two feet in front of you? We should be talking about that.

Poor infrastructure affects each and every one of us negatively and sometimes tragically. Let's make a change.


I'll be at the vigil at for Neill Townsend at 9:00 pm and hope to see many of you there.

Since I don't yet have a helmet cam, I was moved today to at least take a lot of pictures on my commute home to help document the current reality of bicycling in Chicago, and how far we have to go. The picture I took below was on the Wells St block south of the crash site where Neill died. The combination of years of wear on the bike lane striping as well as the recent water pipe work has made much of the stretch unrecognizable as a bike lane, so drivers who are new to the street would hardly even know this is a designated bike route. (This entire stretch will get buffered lanes as I understand it, but not sure of the timeframe.)

thanks, great find. I'd love to see the data on accidents pre-protected bike lanes and post.

KatieP said:

I think this is how we identify where to begin education efforts

I have one other comment on the general topic of defensive cycling.  In my experience, and it appears many peoples' collective experience, parked cars are at least as much of a hazard as moving vehicles.  (I tend to think that most people park their brains at the same time as they park their cars.) Anecdotal evidence suggests that doorings are the most common form of accidents involving cyclists.  For this reason, I generally ride as far left in bike lanes as I can whenever there are cars parked along the curb.  When there are no parked cars, I move right.  I generally find moving vehicles to be more predictable than parked ones.  By moving left, you require less effort to get out of the way of an opening door, and are more visible to moving vehicles.  You also reduce the space they have to get around you.  Some of them will squeeze by you (and maybe honk at you), but most will move left or slow down.

Be safe,


This is horrible. I was doored near that area about one month ago. Filed a police report but
the officer did not take it seriously and there were no consequences for the driver.

My mom called me at work!  She was very worried.  She also casually ask maybe I should stop biking and use public transportation or walk.  Oddly enough, this morning at Washington and Des Plaines I saw a biker rear ended a car.  He was fine, he got up and rode again after checking the rear of the car for damage.
Julie Hochstadter said:

My dad just called me to check in.

Couldn't make it out for the vigil. Very glad to see coverage on both fox & wgn (whom made it out there). Hoping that something great will come this tragedy.
The police presence on wells on my commute home was great. (I was annoyed that one police suv just south of Chicago on Wells thought it was a good idea to park in the bike lane, with no lights etc.)

Thank you Ethan. Very well said. 

Active Transportation Alliance said:

We all as people, no matter how we get around, need to obey the law, make safe choices and respect each other as people not as a "car" or "bike" or "pedestrian"...we're people and we can keep each other safe.

Again, our best thoughts are with the family and friends of the person who died and won't be going home today.

Ethan Spotts, Active Trans


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