The Chainlink

On Friday morning, October 20th, at around 8:20, my wife was walking on the lakefront path near the Theater on the Lake at Fullerton. She takes walks here all the time and was in the designated walking lane.  There was a city garbage truck to her right (she was heading south) and a cyclist, also heading south, veered to avoid the truck and ran into her from behind.  She was flung forward, onto the asphalt, falling on her chest and arms.  The cyclist did stop and helped her, by calling our home, contacting me by phone, giving her his card, and calling an Uber to take her home. The driver of the garbage truck also helped her, sitting with her and helping her to the Uber.  When she got home, it was clear she was injured and we took her to an urgent care facility, eventually spending the day in the ER.  She did not break any bones or — to the best of our knowledge at this moment —have any internal injuries; we are quite fortunate that this was the case, since she could have easily been severely injured. She is sore, shaken, and still very upset, two days later.  It may take a long time for her to cope with the psychological impact of this collision.

I am a cyclist, riding for recreation and also, as the cyclist who hit her, often as a commuter, so I am very familiar with the issues for pedestrians and cyclists on the lakefront path. I looked at the newly created separated lanes on the path as a benefit, but now have to say that I have my doubts about them.  Certainly the location of the city's garbage truck created a hazard, and a momentary blind spot, while it was (I assume) blocking the cycling lane.  How to separate riders and walkers remains an open question when a cyclist, riding at speed, chooses to veer into the walking lane rather than slow or stop — when his or her view, or the path ahead, is obstructed.  As we ride the streets of Chicago, in designated bike lanes, we hope that drivers will be prudent and alert before they open their car doors to avoid 'dooring' us.  We should also hope that riders will be equally prudent and alert, and willing to slow or to stop, when they confront an obstacle that might produce uncertain conditions ahead, instead of speeding along. 

What can instill in cyclists an ever-present awareness that there is a directly proportional relationship between the speed of travel and the potential to do harm to others? I have enjoyed getting up some momentum riding along the lakefront, and feeling that I was in good control of my bike, in relation with other riders, runners and pedestrians. But from now on, I will think twice about going fast. Riders, be cautious!

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clp, thanks for your kind thoughts. My wife is definitely rethinking her walking routine.

clp - Well said. 

J Miller - I also hope that your wife is able to make a full recovery.

Thanks!

Thanks for your very thoughtful words of caution and cycling etiquette.  I too am wishing a full recovery to your wife.  This new path configuration around the Theater on the Lake has always concerned me.  I think it is now more dangerous than it was before - especially for northbound cyclists.

Thank you Mark: she is feeling better.

One big issue is that if you're heading north on the trail, at North Avenue there's a turn that's actually labeled as a *bike* lane even though it actually takes you to the *pedestrian* lanes; they need to re-paint that. (And last night the bike lanes were blocked, meaning that bikes *had* to go down and borrow the pedestrian lanes...)

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