The Chainlink

Cyclist Killed: Carla Aiello, 37, of Norwood Park Hit By Turning Truck Driver. Prev. Subject: Keeping a proper lookout

I am sick of the of police representatives making excuses for drivers who crush cyclists.

Yesterday a 37-year-old woman was traveling down Milwaukee Ave., in a bike lane to the right of a dump truck. The dump truck fatally right-hooked her. Once again, the cycling community mourns for a tragic death and for the loved ones of the victim.

Police spokesperson Sally Bown commented that the truck driver was "legally making a right turn" and "did not see the bike on the right side". The old "blind spot" excuse lives on. The old implication that killing somebody because your vehicle has a blind spot is somehow just one of those unfortunate things that happen....

Drivers have a duty to keep a proper outlook when they drive. They are not excused from this because they are driving some poorly-designed vehicle with a blind spot. Especially when there are many ways, including better mirrors, sensors, and camera systems, to eliminate such blind spots. This is 2019, not 1919. It is negligent on its face to drive a huge truck on crowded residential streets with blind spots along its sides. No such vehicles should be allowed on the road, period.

So no, Sally Bown. That dump truck driver wasn't legally making a right turn. He was a lazy sod who, even though bicycles are all over on Milwaukee Avenue, didn't bother to make sure he was clear before he turned. And it is of no relevance that he didn't see the bicyclist on the right side -- it was his responsibility to make sure that he could before he made that turn. That driver acted completely recklessly and should be charged appropriately. No doubt the police will give him a minor ticket or two, if even that.

There is a duty at all times to be aware of such situations. If your truck renders you blind, then find another job or a better truck. Those trucks with the stupid diagrams on the back showing that they might run you over if you're to their right should be banned from city streets. Telling someone you're going to kill them before you kill them doesn't make it legal. 

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I  hesitated to  speak about our obligations when I posted as I did not want to give any hint of victim blaming but Tony and  Larry make a very good point.  We have to  do everything we can (and I am making no judgement on  what was or was not done by Carla) to  minimize our risk of injury.  Sometimes that  doesn't matter. We can  do everything  and still  be hit, yet we still have to be aware that a big lumbering  machine  such  as a truck may not see and may not maneuver as well.   Consequently, we  have to take that into account to give  ourselves the best  chance of getting to our destination  in  one piece. 

Thank you, Dave. The more we learn, the more we improve our chances of getting there in one piece.

Agreed Dave and Larry and Tony (and Anne).  Blind spot education and reminders (and therefor even signs on trucks) shouldn't be dismissed as victim blaming, and so please everyone, let's not say it is.  It's unfortunate we can't change what happened, but we can be mindful of what Dave, Larry and Tony point out.  

More important info on this matter from almost two years ago.  This is a known and related issue, and yet CDOT keeps doing this as well.

Actually, John Greenfield’s comment to the opinion piece is worth reading:

For what it's worth, when a street is reconfigured for parking-protected bike lanes, CDOT eliminates a few parking spaces near intersections in an effort to provide proper sight lines. However, if you're a fast rider, you may find you don't always have enough time to spot right-turning drivers, and vice-versa.

The elimination of parking spots at intersections is one reason why there's sometimes a backlash against protected bike lanes from residents. For example, in 2012 CDOT installed protected lanes on Independence Boulevard in Garfield Park, but neighbors objected to the new layout, so the parking lane was moved back to the curb and the bike lanes were downgraded to buffered lanes, with no physical protection.

On October 2 of this year Leonard Anderson, 70, was fatally struck on his bike on this stretch of Independence. While Anderson was allegedly riding against traffic, it appears that if he had been in a curbside protected bike lane there would have been virtually no way this crash could have occurred:

Which merely highlights yet another fatal flaw of that design variation, despite the apparent effort to do the opposite: "However, if you're a fast rider, you may find you don't always have enough time to spot right-turning drivers, and vice-versa."

This just means that you're riding too fast for conditions 

And that's the rub of protected\buffered bike lanes, a cyclist becomes little more than a pedestrian with tires, and not the vehicle that it really is.

Yes.  This design moves the hook collision to a crossing collision, almost as if the pedestrian and cyclist are jaywalkers in cross traffic.  Slowing down at intersections may be a good idea more than is actually practiced in many cycling scenarios (e.g. stop signs) but that design introduces a different set of crossing hazards just as it does for pedestrians.  A bike right turn is easier, but this was all about crossing the intersection.

Similar situation where left-turning semi did not see pedestrian in crosswalk.

Filka Bean, Thanks for posting the article. 



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