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Great comment!

April said:

I posted a comment under the NBC Article which (thankfully) mentioned the door being opened and that the driver would be ticketed.  Someone already started the cyclist bashing about us not stopping at stop signs.

Here's my comment:

In this case it was not a cyclist who was breaking the law, it was a driver who broke the law and endangered another person. Opening your door into a bike lane (or any traffic lane) is against the law and plain irresponsible. Let’s not turn this horrible tragedy into a grade-school finger pointing. Let’s please be respectful to the memory of Neil Townsend and try to learn from this situation. Drivers, please check before opening your door. This kind of fatal accident is extremely common in our city and can be avoided. The Danes recommend using your right hand to open the door because your body naturally turns allowing you to check before exiting your vehicle. Cyclists, please ride with caution, avoid the door zone as much as possible. Scan for drivers in the windows as you pass, watch for taillights and listen for the telltale sound of the door clicking open. Again, please be respectful to the memory of Neil Townsend and learn from this incident. My thoughts are with the Townsend family.

Yeah, I sent the info to a couple of his friends and coworkers, I think they'll circulate as much as they can.


h' said:

Can you let his friends/family/coworkers know about the vigil tonight at 9? 

Trevor said:

I'm not sure if Neil was a chainlink member, but he was a really nice guy.  He was on his way to work on W. Fulton Market this morning.  He didn't show up on time and didn't respond to text messages, unusual for him.  Police showed up at his office to let people know what had happened.  This is incredibly sad, and I know at least one of his coworkers who rode into work today was too shaken to ride home.  My thoughts are with Neil's family and friends.

Kevin C said:

Updated Tribune story identifies the victim as Neil Townsend.

Why is it that every time an article is posted about a cyclist being injured or killed, some commenters always feel the need to wrongly claim that all cyclists break the law and therefore they deserve whatever happens to them? In my experience, far more car drivers are breaking the law then cyclists, e.g. speeding, driving aggressively, following too closely, not allowing 3 feet of space, driving/parking in the bike lane, not looking before flinging their car doors into traffic, etc. Drivers of cars need to be held to a higher standard of safety since they can injure/kill someone with their vehicle FAR more easily than a rider of a bicycle.

Here is the reporter's email: , CMastony@tribune.com.


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!!

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: , CMastony@tribune.com.


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!!

Here's my email to Colleen Mastony in response to her update.  I plan to send a slightly modified version as a letter to the editor to the Trib and Sun Times.

I was greatly disappointed to read your extremely biased, fear-mongering update on Neil Townsend's tragicallly preventable death.  Accidents like this should not happen, and they wouldn't if more drivers were educated about the dangers of dooring.  Other cyclists have died in the same way in recent years. 

On more than one occasion, I have been doored, or swerved to avoid being doored, and was saved from Mr. Townsend's fate by the fact that the driver who could have run me over or hit me head on was paying attention and was able to stop quickly, avoiding a potentially deadly collision.  None of those incidents would have happened at all if each of the parked drivers had looked before opening their doors.  Many cyclists I know have had similar experiences.

To put this into context, I have ridden over 15,000 miles over the last 15 years - most of those miles within the city of Chicago.  In that time, I've had a total of 4 (yes, FOUR) accidents requiring medical attention. Three of those accidents involved dooring.  I have avoided hundreds of *potential* accidents through observant, defensive riding.  Paying attention saves lives.  Most of the year round cyclists and bike commuters I know have similar safety statistics.  It sounds like Mr. Townsend may have also had similar numbers - until today.

One of the best things that could come out of Mr. Townsend's death is EDUCATION.  Can we afford to waste yet another opportunity to educate a lot of people and save lives?  I don't think so.  Cycling *can* be a safe, healthy means of transportation - if drivers learn how to share the road safely.  Learning to look in the side mirror EVERY TIME and wait if necessary is such a small thing, but it could have a huge impact on bike safety. 

I hope that you will revise your story accordingly.  The local cycling community would be grateful.

Anne Alt
President
Chicago Cycling Club

April said:

Here is the reporter's email: , CMastony@tribune.com.


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!!

The reporter also states that "the bicyclist swerved around an open door."   

That should be an opened door -semantically they do NOT mean the same thing.  Later in the article it says that the door was just opened, but a reader at that point in the first paragraph gets a mental image of the rider seeing an OPEN door far ahead and just deciding to swerve around it rather than slowing or at least checking before swerving into traffic.  Saying that he swerved at the last instant around a door that was opened INTO him is much different. 

Tiny differences in the way that something is worded makes all the difference in the world in the way the reader judges the situation. 

Getting punted under the wheels of a moving flatbed trailer by an inattentive driver that couldn't bother to check before throwing their door open into them is hugely different than seeing an open door up a ways up ahead and simply racing around it. 



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:

I hate listening to cars honking at me when I'm forced to take the lane.  After today, I think I will be tolerating more honking.  The risk of riding close to parked traffic is clearly too high.  I'm very sad that today's tragedy has served as a reminder.   Here is the message that I sent.  I hope it gets read.

 

chicagobreaking@tribune.com
Colleen Mastony <CMastony@tribune.com>

 

Dear Chicago Tribune:

I am utterly shocked, offended, and ultimately disgusted by your decision to print this headline: "Bicyclist killed on North Side: 'He did have a lot of close calls'" (Oct. 5, 2012).

 

The latter half of this line loudly implies that the victim was a notoriously reckless bicyclist - an idea clearly unfounded.  Why, in this time of tragedy, have you made your mission to instantly seek and place blame?  Why fuel the road-sharing conflicts that plague Chicago?  Shame on your writers, Alex Garcia and Colleen Mastony.

 

Had the driver of the parked Altima followed Chicago law and looked before opening his door into the flow of traffic, the victim would not have been sent careening into a passing vehicle.

 

Furthermore, while continuous updates change the content of your online article, your choice of language is persistently problematic: "An attorney biking to work was struck and killed by a semi truck..."

 

A truck is not the opposite of an attorney.  A truck does not drive itself.  A person driving a truck struck a person riding a bicycle, however unintentional.    Accurate language must be used if we are to understand, and ultimately solve, the problems on our roads.  As a news source, I hope that you will uphold a commitment to accuracy.  Please prove so in future articles.

 

I'm so sorry for his family's loss. This is the kind of scenario that gives me nightmares when I'm riding on some of these crowded streets.

They still have some work to do on the article, but at least the headline is more compassionate now.  Thanks to his friends who called the trib and thanks to those who wrote in with an opinion on a very biased story. 

Please don't interpret this as an effort to nitpick or diminish anyone's good (and appreciated) efforts, but as we write letters of concern to the Tribune and other media outlets, I think it would be good to spell his name correctly.  As far as I can tell from news reports and some older (prior to today) sources via Google, it's Neill Townsend.

Here is Fox coverage: http://www.myfoxchicago.com/story/19746868/bicyclist-fatally-struck...

We also posted a blog and will continue to follow-up: http://www.activetrans.org/blog/espotts/person-riding-bicycle-was-k...

Ethan Spotts, Active Trans

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