The Chainlink

Disturbing story of a cyclist who was struck and killed by a tour bus on the Mag Mile earlier this evening. RIP.

Update at 10:30 PM: the victim was named as 29 year old Blaine Klingenberg. Condolences to his family and friends.

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Here's Streetsblog's post on the case. There are three main takeaways. We don't yet know what caused the crash -- some witnesses said the cyclist ran a red, but others said the bus driver had a red light as well, because southbound traffic from Inner Lake Shire Drive had a left-turn signal. This is the second time in seven months that a Chicago Trolley driver has killed a vulnerable road user on Michigan Avenue. And we need to take steps to make it safer and easier to access Oak Street Beach, and to travel Michigan avenue by bike or foot in general -- right now drivers are heavily prioritized on the boulevard.

My heart goes out to his family and the bike messenger community. They lost a good friend. 

Thanks for posting the update, John.

Marilyn Katz, the head of MK Communication, ran a pretty awful op-ed about the case in the Tribune:

Here's my response:

Interesting that the Tribune ran this op-ed. Authored by a PR specialist. About a crash involving a Chicago institution. There was no mention of the fact that a tour bus operator is supposed to be a trained professional operating a vehicle that is subject to heightened city, state and federal standards.

A cynical person might think that this was all part of an early effort to frame the story from a certain perspective. 

Not totally clear on what solution she's proposing. Ban us from the streets and wrap us up in bubble wrap? 

When she says she is a "hesitant cyclist", she sounds like she has bike handling challenges. Maybe she's projecting that lack of control onto others? Her descriptions paint pictures of cyclists that can't control their bikes, running into open car doors and weaving into traffic on a whim. She doesn't seem to realize that most cyclists are aware, cautious and in control when riding.

I read this piece as well and couldn't believe the timing and insensitivity. Who writes something like this, regardless of your position on the matter? 

My sense is that she feels entitled and beyond reproach. Funny thing is, many cyclists are successful and I hope will not forget her comments when/if they have the opportunity to work with Ms. Katz or her firm. 

It's a complicated intersection that seems to create conflicts. A CPD officer I know who has worked in that district for about 10 years says he has responded to MANY crashes at that intersection.

Wow, what a small-minded stereotype she is. I mean, we all know that only dirty hippies and hipster-douches ride bikes (without a helmet of course). And only fat rednecks (texting while driving of course) drive cars. No but srsly, I've been bike touring for ~24 years so I've seen and been involved in my fair share of crashes. And on my daily bike commute from Rogers Park to downtown I do see a lot of unsafe cycling and unaware driving. I hate it so much because it gives us all a bad rep. Those few ding-dongs who seem to think things like stop signs and traffic signals don't apply to them. I want to carry pamphlets titled: "So you bought a bike, now what?" with me and hand them out as necessary (I'm looking at you too Lakefront Lance, pulling a time-trial during rush hour). In the end it doesn't really matter whose fault it is. When a cyclist goes knuckle-up against a motor vehicle, the vehicle will always win. You may be in the right but with broken bones or worse, does it really matter? It's up to us to keep ourselves safe. Now if the traffic cops could keep the drivers in line too then we'd be in business!

Latest post about Wednesday's crash on Streetsblog:

CDOT has traffic cam footage of the crash that killed bike courier Blaine Klingenberg, which will hopefully shed light on what really caused the collision. In the meantime, news outlets continues to use the tragedy as an excuse to lecture bicyclists about safety.

Thanks for sharing the article. I really appreciate your thorough and thoughtful follow up on the crash. 

+1  Thank you!

John, I read  your blog and it made me re read the original stories and the later stories along with my own comment on this thread. We all await the release of the CDOT footage to see what really happened. We don't know who, if anybody, is at fault. We do know the intersection itself may be part of the problem and may put well intended users in harm's way. That seems to be the only thing we can extrapolate now. After the footage is released and if that leads us to find a party who is more culpable than others I suspect one or the other group will stoke the fire. For now the opinions about cyclist's behavior are premature as are calls to condemn the driver.Right now we have tragedy and sadness with some questions about what can be done to make sure these things do not happen in the future. To do otherwise is to take a tragedy and make it fit your agenda. Although that may qualify you to run for President it will not help solve the riddle of making the streets safer for  all of  us. 


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