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There Have Been Three Serious Bike Crashes and Four Deaths in Last 12 Days

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A woman rides a bike in Wicker Park, near the location where a 15-year-old boy was struck and injured this morning. Photo: John Greenfield

It’s almost starting to feel like Bicycling magazine naming Chicago as the nation’s best bike city last week has turned into a curse. In the two weeks since that announcement on Monday, September 19, the region has seen the following bike fatalities and crashes with injuries requiring hospitalization:

  • On Monday, September 19, around 2 p.m. Wlodzimierz Woroniecki, 60, was struck and killed by a motorcyclist while cycling in west-suburban Franklin Park.
  • On Thursday, September 22, at about 2 p.m. a 14-year-old girl was seriously injured by an SUV driver while biking from school in southwest-suburban Plainfield.
  • On Thursday, September 22, at around 5 p.m., Northwestern student Chuyuan Qiu, 18, died after colliding with a concrete truck by the university’s campus in north-surburban Evanston.
  • On Friday, September 23, at around 4 p.m., Naperville resident Danielle Palagi, 26, was struck by a semi driver by the Chicago’s Illinois Medical Campus, sustaining injuries that required the amputation of her foot.
  • On Sunday, September 25, at 2:59 a.m. pizzeria worker Nick Fox died from injuries sustained in a June train/bike crash in Clearing.
  • On Monday, September 26, at 7:50 a.m. health coach Anastasia Kondrasheva was struck and killed by a flatbed truck driver in Roscoe Village.

This morning there was yet another bike crash case to add to the list. At 7:36 a.m., a 15-year old male was struck and injured by the driver of a 2002 Nissan Sentra compact car headed northbound in the 1500 block of North Damen Avenue in Wicker Park, according to Officer Thomas Sweeney from Police News Affairs.

The teen was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital in stable condition and was expected to survive, according to Sweeney. No citations have been issued to the driver. This post will be updated if additional information becomes available.

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Memorial to fallen cyclist Chuyuan Qiu by the Northwestern campus in Evanston as it appeared yesterday. Photo: John Greenfield

Bicycling was correct that, in many respects, Chicago is a great place to ride a bike. Our many miles of buffered and protected bike lanes, the extensive Divvy bike-share system, the Bloomingdale Trail, and our vibrant cycling community are just some of the reasons why.

But it’s obvious that four bike fatalities and three serious injury crashes in the region (including two deaths and two injury cases within the city limits) within the space of twelve days is unacceptable. We still have a long way to go before biking in Chicago is a truly safe activity.

This afternoon the Active Transportation Alliance responded to the current bike crash epidemic by launching a campaign to hold the city government accountable for immediately taking steps to improve safety.

“We are deeply unsettled by recent fatalities on our roadways involving people walking and riding bikes,” states their new Vision Zero — Call to Action web page. “We call for a comprehensive array of steps to eliminate all types of traffic fatalities, including: enhancing commercial vehicle regulation, reducing dangerous speeding, restricting right turns in dangerous locations, expanding education for all, improving our infrastructure and street design, and fairly enforcing traffic laws.” They’re asking residents to sign an online petition urging City Council to implement these proven measures.

You can also show your support for safer streets and honor Anastasia Kondrasheva at tonight’s candlelight vigil and ghost bike installation at the Addison/Damen crash site, taking place from 6:30 to 7 p.m., rain or shine. More than 200 people have RSVPed on Facebook that they will attend.

For the second Friday in a row I have to say, everybody please be careful out there this weekend. Let’s do all be can to make Chicago not just a great, but a safe, place to bike.

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Talk Transpo During the Go Bronzeville & Streetsblog Meetup Next Week

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Next wednesday Go Bronzeville, a campaign to help Bronzeville residents take advantage of the many transportation choices in our city, is co-hosting our monthly reader meetup. This will likely be the start of a series of hangout sessions for Streetsblog Chicago readers and members of transportation advocacy groups and organizations in various parts of town.

The upcoming event takes place on Wednesday, October 5, 6-8 p.m. at Baderbrau, one of Chicago’s newest breweries, located at 25th and Wabash. Streetsblog’s meetups are always a great opportunity to hang out and network with folks who are passionate about sustainable transportation and livable streets. Here are the details:

Go Bronzeville / Streetsblog Meetup
Wednesday, October 5, 6-8 p.m. (probably somewhat later)
Baderbrau
2515 S. Wabash, Chicago

Baderbrau is an 11-minute walk south from the Cermak-McCormick Place Green Line station. For a shorter walk, you can also access the brewery via several CTA bus routes. The nearest Divvy Station is at 26th and Indiana, by Mercy Hospital — from there it’s a 5-minute walk northwest to the taproom.

The brewery doesn’t serve food, but you’re welcome to bring your own.

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The taproom has groovy artwork. Photo: Baderbrau

Hang out with Go Bronzeville’s Ronnie Mathew Harris and Streetsblog’s John Greenfield and Steven Vance, as well as Go Bronzeville members and Streetsblog readers. Come learn more about how Go Bronzeville is working to improve transportation options and equity in the neighborhood known as Chicago’s “Black Metropolis.” John and Steven look forward to getting updates on transportation issues in the area for possible coverage on the website.

RSVP for the event on Facebook if you like.

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It’s Not Good Transit If the Streets Nearby Aren’t Good for Walking

All transit stops aren’t created equal. The street environment around the station — especially safe, convenient pedestrian access — has a major influence on how people use transit.

A wide road with strip malls on the way to a transit stop in San Diego. Photo: Edward Russell/GGW

Edward Russell at Greater Greater Washington compares two stops that offer very different walking environments — one in San Diego and one in Washington:

The 1.1-mile walk from the Grossmont Trolley station in the San Diego suburb of La Mesa to my family’s house takes you through a strip mall parking lot, along the six-lane major arterial Fletcher Parkway and then up the overly wide four-lane Jackson Drive before you turn into their neighborhood. It’s not pleasant, as the picture above shows.

As a result, my family only drives to the station when they ride the Trolley, and I — someone who likes to ride transit — think twice about making the walk when I’m there.

The crazy thing is that this is a comparable distance to what I walk a couple of times a week from the Shaw-Howard U Metro station to my house in Eckington.

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines for Friday, September 30

  • Cyclist Loses Foot After Being Hit by Turning Truck Driver at Roosevelt/Wood (ABC)
  • After Driver Strikes N. Chicago Boy, Trashing His Bike, Police Buy Him a New One (Tribune)
  • Hoboken Crash Puts Pressure on Metra to Implement Positive Train Control (CBS)
  • Signal Problems Make Logan Traffic Circle More Dangerous Than Ever (Chicagoist)
  • DNA: Taxi Use Down 23 Percent This Year in Chicago Due to Ride-Share
  • Chicago Taxi Data: Busiest & Slowest Days, Average Tips, Etc. (DNA)
  • CDOT Starts Construction on the Wells-Wentworth Connector (DNA)
  • Aerial shows How Highway Form the Borders Between Bridgeport and Chinatown (DNA)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA

Streetblog Chicago will be on vacation on Monday, October 3

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Reported “Dooring” Bike Crashes Dropped Significantly from 2011 to 2014

The absolute and proportional numbers of dooring crashes in Chicago have gone down between 2011, when the Illinois Department of Transportation started collecting this data, and 2014.

The absolute and proportional numbers of dooring crashes in Chicago have gone down between 2011, when the Illinois Department of Transportation started collecting this data, and 2014.

Four years of data on reported dooring crashes in Chicago show a decrease from 2011, when the data started being collected by the state, to 2014, the most recent year for which crash data has been released. A dooring crash occurs when someone in a car opens their door into moving traffic without looking, resulting in a collision with a bicyclist.

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The new taxi sticker design.

The database is maintained by the Illinois Department of Transportation separately from their main crash database, and holds fewer details about each crash, which also makes it more difficult to map.

In 2011, there were 337 reported dooring crashes, comprising 19.4 percent of all reported bike crashes in Chicago that year. In 2014 there were 202 reported dooring crashes, accounting for 11.0 percent of all reported bike crashes in Chicago. That’s a decrease of 66.8 percent from 2011 to 2014. See a full table of the data below.

When a person in a car opens a door on a cyclist, the result can be fatal, even if the cyclist never actually makes contact with the door. In recent years several people been seriously injured or killed while biking in Chicago. In 2008 graphic designer Clinton Miceli, 22, was doored by a driver on the 900 block of North LaSalle and run over and killed by a second driver. In 2012 attorney Neill Townshend, 32, swerved to avoid being doored near Oak and Wells and was fatally struck by a truck driver. In 2013 Dustin Valenta, a courier and actor was doored by one driver at 1443 North Milwaukee, then run over by another motorist who fled the scene.  This month, a 20-year-old man was critically injured in the same manner in Portage Park.

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Buffered bike lanes encourage bicyclists to ride outside the door zone. Photo: John Greenfield

Dooring and “near dooring” is illegal in Chicago. Section 9-80-035 of the municipal code states, “No person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so, and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic…” In 2013 the city raised the fine for dooring a cyclist from $500 to $1,000.

The large drop in reported dooring crashes could be the result of several factors:

  • The installation of protected bike lanes that make it almost impossible to door a cyclist.
  • The proliferation of buffered bike lanes, which provide more space for cycling. One study showed that people cycling in buffered bike lanes position themselves slightly further away from the doors of parked cars than those biking in non-buffered lanes.
  • Better awareness of the issue. While there hasn’t been a formal dooring awareness campaign by the city, other than the recent requirement that taxis have “LOOK!” stickers installed in their windows, there have been numerous media reports about dooring crashes.
  • The larger dooring fines. Note that the $1,000 fine is more than the penalty for a motorist who causes a non-dooring bike crash.

When I shared this data with Active Trans advocacy director Jim Merrell he responded, “In the absence of a more rigorous analysis, we’d assume this reflects an actual decrease associated with better bike infrastructure and increased awareness among the public.”

“We have heard anecdotally that reporting can be inconsistent, so it is certainly possible the decline could be attributable to less reporting,” Merrell added. “On the other hand, maybe reporting has increased and the decline in crashes is even bigger! We really just don’t know.” Merrell said he hopes more analysis of crash data comes out of the city’s Vision Zero process.

I haven’t been able to obtain data on the number of citations police officers have issued for dooring crashes. Justin Haugens, a Streetsblog Chicago contributor, has sent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the Chicago Police Department, and the Chicago Departments of Transportation, Administrative Hearings, and Finance, as well as the County Court Clerk, IDOT, and the Illinois State Police – all have responded that they don’t have that information.

Crash data for 2015 should be available by November.

Year Total non-doorings Total doorings Total bike crashes % which are doorings

2011

1,404

337

1,741

19.4%

2012

1,578

334

1,912

17.5%

2013

1,719

270

1,989

13.6%

2014

1,635

202

1,837

11.0%

This data is provided by IDOT based on crash reports from local police jurisdictions. The department does not endorse or review third-party analyses of its data. Download the data.

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Sliding-Scale Fines Could Make Chicago Traffic Enforcement More Equitable

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Illinois state trooper Chris Jones monitors southbound traffic on the Dan Ryan expressway. Photo: Michael Jarecki

[Last year the Chicago Reader launched a weekly transportation column written by Streetsblog Chicago editor John Greenfield. This partnership allows Streetsblog to extend the reach of our livable streets advocacy. We syndicate a portion of the column after it comes out online; you can read the remainder on the Reader’s website or in print. The paper hits the streets on Thursdays.]

Automated traffic enforcement has hit plenty of potholes in Chicago, ranging from red-light cameras installed in dubious locations during the second Daley administration to the Redflex bribery scheme. Still, numerous studies have proven that properly run red-light and speed-camera programs prevent serious traffic injuries and deaths. In recent years Chicago has taken steps to reform the city’s automated enforcement system, and recent statistics indicate the cams are doing their job to prevent violations and serious or fatal crashes. Automated enforcement may also reduce racial profiling: cameras report driver behavior, but they don’t care who’s behind the wheel.

But there’s one aspect of Chicago’s traffic-camera program (and traffic enforcement in general) that’s problematic from a social justice standpoint: the fine structure is regressive. Chicago doles out a $100 ticket for running a red light or speeding at 11 mph over the limit. Since the tickets cost the same whether you’re rich or poor, lower-income people are charged a higher percentage of their income than rich people are. A $100 penalty may be about right for making middle-class people think twice before breaking the rules of the road. But for a person who’s barely making ends meet, it could be a major hardship.

“Maybe it slows some people down,” said Tamika Butler, director of the LA County Bike Coalition, in a recent interview with City Lab. “But for others, it just builds on years of mistrust. It stands between a mom putting food on her table and paying rent.”

In Chicago, failure to pay an initial $100 ticket on time can lead to additional late fees. Accumulating three or more tickets, or two at least a year old, can lead to your car being booted. If that happens, you must pay all existing fines and penalties plus a $60 boot fee to liberate your car. If the car stays booted for 24 hours, it can be towed and impounded. Towed cars are assessed a fee of $150, plus a storage fee of $20 per day for the first five days, and $35 per day after that. It’s easy to see how all these costs could result in a financial crisis for a family living below the median Chicago household income of $47,408. (And while car ownership can be a money pit for lower-income folks, in parts of the city with poor transit access, residents may feel that driving is their only practical option.)

Read more…

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Portland Cracks Down on a Old Urban Scourge: Drive-Throughs

Drive-through services at restaurants and stores can be a real headache for pedestrians. They generally require multiple curb cuts across the sidewalk and generate a lot of conflicts with motor vehicles.

Drive-throughs in Portland will have to serve people on foot or bike if the walk-in enterances are closed. Photo: Bike Portland

Drive-throughs in Portland will have to serve people on foot or bike if the walk-in entrances are closed. Photo: Bike Portland

Many chains also forbid people without cars from using the drive-through windows, citing liability concerns.

Now Portland is tackling both of those issues in a new zoning proposal. Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland reports:

Last June City Council adopted the 2035 Comprehensive Plan. Policy 4.24 prohibits drive-through facilities in the entire Central City and limits their development in close-in commercial districts in order to “support a pedestrian-oriented environment.”

The commission’s Comp Plan Early Implementation Package Recommendation (avaliable here) includes two new zoning code changes we’ll likely be hearing about a lot more in the weeks to come: An outright ban on new drive-throughs east of 80th Avenue, and a policy that would require businesses to serve customers who show up on bike, foot, or mobility devices. (You can see the language starting on page 192 of this PDF.)

One of the many subtle forms of discrimination that exists in our transportation system is how some retail businesses close to certain customers based soley on how they get around. You might have experienced this before at your local pharmacy or fast food restaurant: Only the drive-through window is open but you get denied service simply because you’re not in a car. This common practice discriminates against customers who show up via their feet, a bicycle, or a mobility device.

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Today’s Headlines for Thursday, September 29

  • Editorial: Start Seeing Bicyclists, Even the “Tour de France Types” (Tribune)
  • Tribune Asks, How Would You Make Chicago Streets Safer for Bicyclists, Drivers
  • North Lawndale Police Chase Ends in Crash but No Injuries (DNA)
  • DNA: Stolen Ghost Bike for Sale Online Was Not Tyler Fabeck’s Memorial
  • Metra Announces Union Pacific West Line Schedule Changes (Patch)
  • CTA Promises They Won’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite (DNA)
  • Development Boom on Lawrence in the Wake of 4-to-3 Road Diet (DNA)
  • Active Trans Teams Up With Suburbs on People-Friendly Street Interventions
  • 1,600 Pumpkins, Christmas Tree Farm Coming to Riverwalk (DNA)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA

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CBS Chicago Delivers a Refreshingly Windshield-Free Take on Biking Hazards

When CBS does an exposé on a transportation issue, it’s not always a good thing. For example, there was the 2014 segment where report Rob Johnson argued that the upcoming Loop Link project would slow private vehicle traffic to a crawl and was “driving home the point that cars are no longer welcome” downtown. However, the bus rapid transit system launched last December, vehicle congestion along the corridor is no worse than before, and last time I checked there were still plenty of cars in the Loop.

However, yesterday’s CBS segment “Chicago’s Cyclists in Danger” shows that when Savini applies his investigative skills to the right issue, he can help bring about positive change. He does a fine job of highlighting the problems of reckless driving, bad pavement, and vehicles blocking bike lanes – issues we’ve frequently discussed on this site – to a wider audience.

The clip shows footage of private cars and post office trucks, and even Divvy vans and police vehicles, obstructing bike lanes, and forcing cyclists into the travel lanes. “When bike lanes are blocked, cyclists end up in traffic – a danger to them and drivers,” Savini says.

Savini even confronted a postal worker who regularly parks her truck for up to an hour in the Washington Street bike lane, near the CBS office, and she wound up moving the truck. Of course, if there’s a reason why the employee truly needs to park in this spot every day, the USPS and the city’s transportation department should come up with a solution that doesn’t endanger cyclists.

The segment features cyclists Gasper Rivera and Aimee Zimmer, who were both thrown off their bikes when motorists opened their car doors into traffic without looking. Zimmer suffered a traumatic brain injury, which still causes her problems.

Read more…

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Organizers of Friday Vigil: We Won’t Wait Until 2026 to Prevent Bike Deaths

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Anastasia Kondrasheva.

In the wake of the bike/truck collision that took the life of Anastasia Kondrasheva on Monday, as well as several other recent bike fatality cases, this Friday activists are holding a candlelight vigil and ghost bike installation at the crash site. The organizers say they’re through waiting for the city of Chicago to make progress on its four-year-old goal of eliminating all traffic deaths. Instead, they’re demanding that major steps be taken immediately to prevent such tragedies, especially those caused by commercial drivers.

Kondrasheva, a 23-year-old health coach, was biking to work Monday morning when a flatbed truck driver made a right turn into her path at Addison Street and Damen Avenue, fatally striking her. The driver was cited for failure to exercise due care for a bicyclist in the roadway, according to police.

Last Thursday evening Northwestern student Chuyuan Qiu, 18, was killed in a crash with a concrete truck in Evanston. Since June, four other people have been fatally struck by commercial vehicle drivers while biking in Chicago: Blaine Klingenberg, Virgina Murray, Lisa Kuivinen, and Francisco Cruz. Like Kondrasheva, Murray and Kuivinen were also killed by right-tuning flatbed truck drivers.

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Kristen Green prepares memorials for Kondrasheva and Chuyuan Qiu. Photo: Chicago Ghost Bikes

Garfield Ridge pizzeria worker Nick Fox, passed away last Sunday from injuries sustained in a June bike/train crash, bringing Chicago’s total 2016 bike death toll to six.

Friday’s vigil and ghost bike installation will take place at Addison and Damen from 6:30 to 7 p.m. Some 180 people have RSVPed on Facebook to say that they will attend. It’s also likely that participants from Chicago Critical Mass will ride from Daley Plaza to the ceremony.

“We are gathering the cycling community and Chicago community to honor the memory of Anastasia Kondrasheva and to demand safe streets now,” reads a statement from the vigil organizers. “In light of the six bicyclists and 18 pedestrians who have been killed in Chicago in 2016 many of which involving large commercial vehicles in densely populated neighborhood streets, we no longer accept the empty promises of Chicago’s [‘zero in ten‘] plan.”

In May 2012 the Chicago Department of Transportation released its “Chicago Forward” agenda, including the stated goal of eliminating all traffic deaths by 2022, a target inspired by the international Vision Zero movement. Earlier this month the city announced a formal Vision Zero initiative, starting with a three-year interdepartmental action plan slated for release later this fall. The deadline for reaching zero traffic deaths and serious injuries has been pushed back to 2026.

Following Kondrasheva’s death, Chicago Department of Transportation spokesman Mike Claffey told the Tribune that her case shows why Vision Zero is badly needed. “This is another tragedy that underscores the urgency of our mission,” he said.

Rebecca Resman, a former Active Transportation employee who organizes the Roscoe Village Kidical Mass family ride and runs the Chicago Family Biking page on Facebook, came up with the idea for the vigil. “When I heard about the death at Addison and Damen, I was in shock, angry, scared, and tired of hearing news that another cyclist had been killed,” she told me.

Resman lives a couple of blocks from the crash site, and her first reflex was to head to the intersection. “I felt I needed to get down there and make sure that people understand that there are fragile human lives passing through this intersection every day. She brought along her two young children in a cargo bike, along with signs that read “Please put the phone down” and “Don’t hit me.”

Read more…