Man Dies 3 Days After Bike-Truck Crash in Archer Heights


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The crash site, looking northeast on Archer.

A 55-year old man died Thursday afternoon, three days after a truck driver struck him on his bicycle in the Archer Heights neighborhood.

The Cook County medical examiner’s office identified the man as Leopoldo Rodgriguez, of the 5000 block of South California in the Gage Park community. On Monday, August 4, at around 3:05 p.m., Rodriguez was riding southwest on the 4700 block of South Archer Avenue, according to Officer José Estrada from Police News Affairs.

Rodriguez was struck in the crosswalk at the south leg of the intersection of Archer and Lawndale Avenue, according to Estrada. This indicates that the cyclist had been riding on the sidewalk, in the opposite direction of traffic.

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Path of SW-bound cyclist is in orange; NE-bound truck driver is in blue.

As Rodriguez rode southwest, the driver of a northeast-bound semi truck attempted to make a right turn to head south on Lawndale, Estrada said. The cyclist was pinned under the truck. He was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in critical condition. He was pronounced dead at 2:45 p.m. Thursday, and an autopsy found that he died of a head injury, according to the medical examiner’s office.

No citations have been issued, Estrada said, adding that Major Accidents is investigating the case. “It looks like it was just an unfortunate accident. A lot of cyclists don’t understand that they need to use the same rules of the road as drivers, so we have accidents like this that could be avoided.”

It’s true that wrong-way cycling and sidewalk riding by adults are too common in Chicago, and can contribute to crashes. In my experience, these behaviors seem to be more prevalent on the South and West sides of the city. For example, while checking out new bike lanes on the South Side last week, I spoke with a cyclist who argued that riding against traffic is safer, even though studies show the opposite is true. Clearly, more education and outreach is needed.

However, it’s easy to understand why Rodriguez may have believed he was safer biking on the sidewalk. This stretch of Archer has two lanes of traffic in each direction, plus left-turn bays — but no bike lanes — making it a hostile environment for cycling.

Since Archer is a direct, diagonal bike route downtown, it really should function as the Milwaukee Avenue of the South Side. As such, it’s designated as a bike-priority Spoke Route in the city’s Streets for Cycling Plan 2020. If traffic volumes allow, Archer would be a good candidate for a road diet with travel lane conversions, which would calm traffic and create safer walking and biking conditions. At the very least, marked bike lanes are needed on this section as soon as possible.

Fatality Tracker: 2014 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths

Pedestrian: 17 (5 were hit-and-run crashes)
Bicyclist: 3 (1 was a hit-and-run crash)