The Chainlink

Cyclist Fatality In Illinois: Deborah Wright Died While Riding Near Rock Cut State Park

The Winnebago County Coroner says 49-year-old Deborah Wright of Caledonia was riding eastbound on Harlem Road near Rock Cut State Park yesterday when she was hit from behind.

Wright was taken to the hospital around 9:30 Monday morning. She was originally listed in critical condition and died less than 12 hours later. Police say a 16-year-old boy was driving the white pick up that hit Wright. Loves Park Police say he is cooperating with the investigation.

The Loves Park Police Department says Wright was wearing a helmet when she was hit. Bicyclists in the Stateline say there's a lot more to bike safety than wearing a helmet.

On the heels of the deadly crash, bicyclists in the area are concerned they are not being looked at with caution.

"People should be aware of cyclists on the road, but also to have that infrastructure in place that helps keep a biker safe," said president of the biking group, "I Bike Rockford", Ashley Sarver.

Rest in peace Deborah. 

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I really think that education is the root, not infrastructure. What good is infrastructure when a distracted driver isn't paying attention to his\her surroundings, or cyclists are considered 2nd class citezens? Until we are taken to task for our responsibility as drivers, cyclists, hell, as people, all the infrastructure in the world is only going to be a soft cushion of safety.

Counting on politicians to come up with the monies for infrastructure for a minority of constituents is an uphill battle, while the monies to implement bicycle awareness into drivers education, while also a battle, is a less costly investment with, maybe, an easier chance of passing.

A number of years ago I was ticketed and did the traffic school thing, and during the discussion brought up bicycles in traffic. The response was, "yeah, any other questions?". That has to change for us to see change in the perception of cyclists on the road, or cycling infrastructure to be taken seriously.

I completely agree with your assessment about education and awareness.

In addition, I think part of what infrastructure does (esp. protected bike lanes) is legitimize us on the road - truly one way a city can show a commitment is by making an investment. That said, there needs to be enforcement e.g. ticketing bike lane parking/blocking and stop having city vehicles use it as a parking spot. I feel like one part of the city is on board while the other part of the city didn't get the memo.

I truly prefer roads that have a well maintained bike lane infrastructure.

I don't know that protected bike lanes legitimize us on the road so much as allow drivers to expect us off "their" roads and onto "ours".

We are traffic, and should be treated as such, bike lanes or not, and that is what is needed. As of now many motorists resent both cyclists on the road and giving up lane space for the priority of cycling use.

I also want to say that while there are many drivers out there that wish us ill will, in my experience more of them mean us no harm and allow the room needed to cycle safely. My riding is south and west of Chicago and the very SW side of the city so I am not fully aware of the circumstances of the rest of the city and 'burbs.

You're spot on. Drivers are extra hostile if there is a bike lane and you're not in it.

With the two recent bicycle fatalities involving teen drivers, be aware that the AAA calls this time period the "100 Deadliest Days", where deadly teen crashes rise to15% in summer compared to the rest of the year.

I looked up Harlem Road near Rock Cut State Park on Street View. Another high speed country road, with no shoulder east of the expressway and a dirt shoulder west of the expressway. Be very careful.


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