The Chainlink

**I live in North Center and commute downtown to work every day. I just finished crying in my office after hearing about this. I wrote this thing on Facebook that I thought was worth sharing because writing it felt slightly more productive than just sitting in my computer chair and fuming. But honestly guys, what are we going to do about this???**

I TAKE THIS ROUTE ALMOST EVERY DAY. This cyclist was killed on Damen and Addison. I live on Damen and Irving Park.

But this is not me, even though a lot of what I want to say is spurred on by my personal rage and devastation that this these deaths have become run-of-the-mill this in 2016. Why is this still happening? I said to a friend the other day that Bobby Cann, who was killed by a drunk driver in 2013, should have been the last cyclist death in our city. Cann's totally preventable death -- if the man who killed him had been locked away for his multiple PREVIOUS drunk driving offenses like he SHOULD HAVE been if only he wasn't white and privileged and equipped with good lawyers and enough money to get his record wiped clean, Cann would still be here today -- should have been enough to show our city and our mayor that building miles and miles of bike lanes is not enough to protect cyclists. Because this isn't just about bike lanes. Lisa Kuivinen was killed while she was biking in one of Chicago's supposedly safest bike lanes on Milwaukee Avenue and a truck driver veered into her lane without looking. This is not about bike lanes. This is about a culture, and a conversation we are not having about the relationship between drivers and cyclists in our city.

Chicago was just named the most bike-friendly city in the country and I know that for me personally, and a lot of other cyclists I know who use bikes as their main form of transportation of every day, that designation feels like a joke. Why?

Because today's death marks the is the SIXTH (I had to edit this after learning about the *****18-year-old****college student who was killed in a crash with a cement truck on Thursday night) CYCLIST DEATH in FOUR MONTHS caused by a COMMERCIAL VEHICLE in our city/around our city.

I am sick over this. I ride these roads every single day. I wear a helmet, I ring my bell when I'm riding in unprotected bike lanes adjacent to parked cars because I know a driver could open their door without looking at any second, I use hand signals, I wear bright colors, I yell when drivers start encroaching into the bike lane without looking, I wear lights at night, I communicate with other cyclists, I stop at red lights, but NONE OF THESE THINGS WILL KEEP ME ALIVE IF A CARELESS (AND MOST LIKELY, COMMERCIAL, GIVEN THE RECENT TREND) DRIVER MOVES INTO MY LANE AND HITS ME.

We also need to realize that even the cyclists who do NOT wear lights, who do not stop at stop signs, who do not wear helmets, STILL DESERVE TO BE PROTECTED AND RESPECTED ON THE ROADS AS HUMAN BEINGS. BECAUSE THEY ARE HUMAN BEINGS. OK, so some cyclists do not follow all the laws. Show me a driver who respects and follows every law every time they are behind the wheel. Human beings all have the ability to be careless and irresponsible, but somehow cyclists are the category of human beings that many of us have decided DESERVE to lose their lives as a result of carelessness.

The article about the 18-year-old college student mentioned that she was not wearing a helmet. This to me feels a little bit like victim blaming. I encourage everyone to know to wear helmets, but the fact is in many crashes a helmet is not going to save your life. We do not immediately ask if victims of car crashes were wearing a seatbelt and then feel vindicated when we find out they were not because that somehow means they deserved to die.

And the worst thing is knowing that if I were to be injured in a crash with a vehicle that hundreds of drivers and internet trolls would be waiting to comment on the news article about the things I should have been doing to prevent my own injury or death.

I'm sitting at my desk in my office looking at my green Surly crosscheck and thinking about how today I will probably take the Red Line home after work. I'd rather bike. It's my favorite way to get around this city. To be very honest, after spending most of 2016 in a deep depression that I'm just now climbing out of, I'm pretty sure that riding my bike - combined with a great therapist and the right antidepressant dosage - saved my life a little bit. But today I'm too sad thinking about how my favorite thing to do in the world could kill me someday. I'd rather have a day where I can get home safely without thinking overtime and looking around me, every second, wondering if the next car that cuts me off is going to be the last one.

(Anyone who comments on this post with any "helpful" comments about what this cyclist and the four other dead cyclists could have done to prevent being killed by careless vehicles will be immediately deleted.)

You can find an edited version that includes links posted to Medium here:

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Yes. Yes. Yes.

<3 yes yes yes to everything you said, especially to the part about drivers have already forgotten what happened. I think that it's even likelier that most drivers aren't even AWARE that it happened, don't understand what the white bike symbolizes, and many of them probably don't care because it doesn't directly affect them because they'll never be on two wheels.

People don't care. They see you and keep driving.
How many of the pedestrian walkway signs are gone or laying flat? They're texting, looking for their Uber fare.etc

Going up Clark another wonderful cta bus driver kept passing and cutting me off at stops so I decided to take the lane and did not allow room to pass! I mean its sad I have to take such measures to make sure I'm seen.

Mike I have the same issues with buses on Milwaukee. I've come close to being crushed by one bc they just merge on top of a group of bikers biking in the bike lane without waiting for us to pass. How is that not illegal....or do they just not give a shit?

Oh this was me last week on Milwaukee. The bus pulled over right in front of me and two other cyclists.  What was even more infuriating, it was right in front of Lisa's ghost bike. 

It is illegal if they are within 3' of the cyclists:

(625 ILCS 5/11‑703) (from Ch. 95 1/2, par. 11‑703)
Sec. 11‑703. Overtaking a vehicle on the left. The following rules govern the overtaking and passing of vehicles proceeding in the same direction, subject to those limitations, exceptions, and special rules otherwise stated in this Chapter:

(d) The operator of a motor vehicle overtaking a
bicycle or individual proceeding in the same direction on a highway shall leave a safe distance, but not less than 3 feet, when passing the bicycle or individual and shall maintain that distance until safely past the overtaken bicycle or individual.

If you can get the bus number, location and time, report it to CTA.

Thank you! Last time it happened I was honestly in shock and wanted to hold up the driver as I yelled at them but I didn't want to punish the poor people on the bus that did nothing to deserve it.  I'll definitely be reporting it the next time!

you absolutely should report it.  mostly i find bus drivers to be accommodating to me as a cyclist but once i encountered one who sped up to race me to the next bus stop. it's the only time i've been afraid for my life while biking.  i got off my bike to get his name and badge number and reported him to CTA the next day.  i have no idea what happened to him but there are cameras on the bus that film traffic so i can only assume the video proved he was driving dangerously.   

I sorta doubt there is just one. I've played hopscotch/tag with CTA drivers on Clark before. (The kind who rush to get past you so they can cut you off when they get to the next stop.) Many otherwise reasonable bus drivers seem not to know how to use their turn signals or flashers either.

I watch for those guys in the mirror and communicate using hand signals (polite ones) to find out if they're going to pull over or not.

My heart goes out to this cyclists family and friends.

This is one of my regular commuting routes too, and a friend even reached out to me to make sure I was ok.  

If you need to report a bus driver who was driving dangerously, you can email with the details of the complaint. Bus number and route number should be enough.


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