The Chainlink

The man, 40, was riding a bike westbound on 67th Street about 1 a.m. when he was hit by a Chevrolet Impala in the intersection with Stony Island Avenue.

A bicyclist died after being hit by a car Sunday on the South Side.

The 40-year-old was riding a bike westbound on 67th Street about 1 a.m. when he was hit by a northbound Chevrolet Impala in the intersection with Stony Island Avenue, according to Chicago police.

He was taken to Jackson Park Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said. The Cook County medical examiner’s office has not released details about the fatality.

The 42-year-old woman driving the Impala stayed at the scene after the crash, police said. She was not injured.

Police said investigators believe the cyclist may have been in the middle of the street when he was hit.

No charges or citations have been issued as the police Major Accidents Investigation Unit investigates the crash.

Taking the lane?  Are cyclists entitled to full use of a traffic lane?

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There may be camera or video footage... This news clip seems to show that there's one of those red light cams that get some protest on the south side as unwelcome money-makers.  However if a red had been run by one of the parties, the camera may have clicked on and it's possible the police investigation unit is looking into what's what here to clear up some speculation about what did or didn't happen, which at this stage might be useful.

\olice: Woman charged with driving on a suspended license, causing fatal crash with bicyclist

extracted from the story:

Sabrinia Williams, of the 1400 block of West 71st Place, was charged with three misdemeanors: driving on a suspended license, driving an uninsured vehicle in a crash that caused bodily harm and failure to reduce speed to avoid a collision.

Police initially said the bicyclist may have been riding in the middle of the street when he was struck. Officer Steve Rusanov, a spokesman for the Police Department, on Monday said investigators aren’t clear on where in the road Luellen was, but that it was irrelevant in determining who was at fault for the collision.

“The driver of the vehicle that hit the cyclist — regardless if (Luellen) was in the center of the street, the side of the street — as far as tickets and citations go, she is the unit at fault,” he said. “The driver is at fault.”

(At least they got that part right!)

Progress. That very last line of the article - wonder what they're still investigating. Sometimes other parties, people who left the scene, 2nd vehicle involvement and so forth.  It's illustrative though - first accounts don't always set forth the accurate/complete/pertinent info.  

Stony Island is unquestionably in need of an investment in bike infrastructure. However, it is highly speculative to suggest that a road diet would have made any difference in the incident on Sunday. Williams had NO business being behind the wheel -- with a suspended license AND uninsured vehicle -- and yet there she was at 1 a.m., with deadly consequences.  

AND failure to reduce speed to avoid a collision.

Deadly consequences - and misdemeanor charges.

Followup from the Sun-Times Editorial Board:


So let’s invest, Chicago.

And one final point: Give the city’s traffic experts, not aldermen, the final say on spending.

We say that because the latest cycling death happened near the intersection of 67th Street — which has sections of unprotected bike lanes — and Stony Island Avenue. The city has proposed constructing more bike lanes on heavily traveled Stony Island, but local aldermen have opposed the plan.

Would protected bike lanes have prevented this year’s biking fatalities? We can’t say for sure. But greater safety is worth the investment.

Would protected bike lanes have prevented this year’s biking fatalities? We can’t say for sure.

Can't say for sure... So then do we get our money back for the CDOT special that is Milwaukee Ave?  Armitage, that we no have to re-do a block away on Dickens?  Elston?  Clybourn?  Randolph?   This is a lot of uncertainty with a lot of tax money and debt spending, and with dubious results.   

It seems we need a new paradigm, not the same approach, policy, and CDOT leadership that's driving tragedy and complaints.  

I subscribe to the Sun-Times; read it every morning for local news.  But that editorial stinks. 

Sun-Times' readership has often sounded off negatively about bike lanes when they appeared in the neighborhoods!  And the absence of conviction evident in that editorial will only exacerbate the outrage from their readers.

C'mon Sun-Times: find a CYCLIST to write your editorials about these things!  Someone who KNOWS what he's talking about! 

And the answer BTW, to your question is NO!  Keeping cyclists safe is not that easy.  PBLs would NOT have prevented Luellen's death...and few others.  The real answer to cycling safety is: BETTER ENFORCEMENT!  Get the CPD off their ass!  That Williams woman should have been locked up, and those charges should have been felonies!

I am  vexed by the antipathy to the Sun-Times editorial. that editorial advocates for more  biking infrastructure such as protected lanes.  There are two clauses in the sentence Would protected bike lanes have prevented this year’s biking fatalities? We can’t say for sure. But greater safety is worth the investment.  One clause indicates that the writers of the editorial cannot state for  certain that  PBL's would have prevented this year's fatalities.  The other clause states that it doesn't  matter--- we need the investment.  We need the infrastructure. We need the lanes. The editorial board has done what good  advocates do, it refused to make a pronouncement of fact upon  which it was not sure. However, it went on to say that we still need protected lanes. Why slay our allies in  an environment where we are literally fighting city hall with certain alderpeople refusing  to  make their wards safer. 

It is good to  point out where such infrastructure may indeed have saved lives and point out why that is the case but the venom seems oddly misplaced to  me. The editorial, imho, does not stink but is good. Could it be better? I think so. Does it advocate for the city in which we want to live and ride? I sure think so.

One of the troubles for the Sun-Times and others is they have a lot of uncertainty about this, which is then tethered to a lot of someone else's money.  Borrowed money, in the case of the county, state, and city hall as mentioned.   Understandably, the uncertainty springs from what we've seen on Milwaukee Avenue and elsewhere.  The idea of doubling down on that is bound to provoke a little hesitation. 

For the kind of money that gets tossed around for these projects, we could staff up a medical clinic along Stoney, buy a small bus, and give people from the neighborhood who can't cycling and maybe barely walk rides to it (these sorts of things exist in different places but not adequately).  That would serve a large constituency too, and ultimately save lives as well through better primary care and prevention.   

Or going door to door and getting rid of space heaters and giving people voucher for their heating bill instead of risking another deadly apartment fire that we see on the news every winter.    (or Venture cards for a Stoney or westbound bus, and so forth)

Of course here we're all about cycling here, but we likewise have to be about context too when we're talking about public dollars of this scope if it's in the name of safety.  So I'm not saying the Sun-Times went about it all wrong, but I get the idea that there'd be some uncertainty. 

LIFE is uncertain.

Of course, but by those terms, well, we're not really certain about the culpability of the driver who hit the cyclist then.  The point, and the critique of the sun-times article is in the context of degrees of certainty or in this case, uncertainty.   They seem to be standing more on the latter, which is a big deal considering the gravity of the safety matters and the money involved.  


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