Today’s Headlines for Friday, September 2

  • Tribune Editorial Responds to the Four Recent Chicago Bike Fatalities
  • Rauner Moves to Fire 29 IDOT Patronage Hires From Previous Administrations (Tribune)
  • MPC Looks at Why Leaders Haven’t Been Aggressively Pursuing Racial Integration
  • Local Woman Launches Petition to Ban Shooting Photos, Video of Serious Crashes (CBS)
  • Food Truck Vendors: Don’t Start Enforcing Overly Strict Operations Rules (Chicagoist)
  • Phyllis Harmon, Who Helped Found CBF, Passes Away at 99 (Active TransChainlink)
  • Chicago’s 3rd-Tallest Tower Will Break Ground Next Week, Affecting River Access (DNA)
  • Officer Credited With Helping Find Stolen Bike Worth More Than $2,600 (DNA)
  • Chicago Makes List of 15 Best Running Cities (Runner’s World)

Streetsblog USA is on vacation this week.

  • Brendan Kevenides

    The Tribune article contains truisms: everyone slow down and pay attention. Thanks for the advice. But it wrongly suggests that those bicyclists we’ve recently lost are to blame for their own deaths. Blaine was killed by a bus driver who wasn’t paying attention, Virginia was at or near a stand still when a truck driver turned right without looking, Lisa appears to have been simply riding in a clearly marked bike lane when she was hit from behind by a truck driver and Francisco was killed by a hit and run driver. There is no evidence in any of those recent tragedies to suggest that the bicyclists failed to slow down. These preventable deaths were the result of careless drivers.

  • Matt

    What I find more saddening here is the ever-present avoidance of actual responsibility. You know, the “vehicle” as opposed to the vehicle’s “driver” type mentality that persists in the media. Look at each individual situation, as described in the article, and it’s almost painful to see the obvious omission. I typically don’t care for those discussions in the immediate aftermath, but when you are trying to raise any sort of awareness after the fact, THAT is the time to do it.

    •In June, 29-year-old bicycle messenger Blaine Klingenberg was headed for Lake Michigan after work when he was struck and killed by a tour bus on North Michigan Avenue.

    So “he” was struck and killed by a bus, not the *driver* of said bus.

    •In July, 25-year-old Virginia Murray died when her Divvy bike collided with a flatbed truck.

    According to the article, “she” didn’t even collide with the truck, her Divvy bike did. Again, no mention of the driver.

    •In August, 20-year-old Lisa Kuivinen, a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, was bicycling on North Milwaukee Avenue when a semi crossed into the bike lane and struck her.

    Over 30 words in that sentence, no mention of the fact that she died, apparently by another rogue vehicle.

    •A day later, Francisco Cruz, 58, was struck by a cargo van driver while biking in West Garfield Park.

    The fact that the offending vehicle was driven by someone is finally mentioned. Odd that this is the only case in which the driver was unknown.

    It’s unfortunate that the mentality that cyclists are basically solely responsible for the things that happen to them exists in the first place. While this is not that reason for that mentality, it certainly doesn’t do anything to help make it go away. When you describe events that involve 8 different people, and the only people that are actually talked about are the people that died and not the ones that killed them, and your ending message is “everyone slow down” then who is that message directed at here? It certainly doesn’t seem like it’s directed at the people that might be the ones driving those vehicles.

  • Kevin M

    The Tribune Editorial Board lost me with “Those accidents mirror a nationwide trend.” Actually, just the 2nd word of that sentence. Wholly inappropriate and behind the times (both generally-speaking and as in the famous paper from NY).

  • Matt

    But aren’t they really accidents? I mean, in the purest form of the word, I do believe all four were accidental (though, who knows, the hit-and-run driver could have done so intentionally). Calling something an accident doesn’t mean it wasn’t preventable, or that anyone was or wasn’t at fault. I know I’m probably in the minority here with that opinion, but I do think it takes away from the real reason to be angry here.

    The absolute worst thing about this article, and others like it, is that the writer(s) claim to advocate shared responsibility, then don’t actually do it. “Bicyclists and other motorists share the same rights and responsibilities.”

    In an incident involving a bicyclist and a motorist when only the bicyclist is discussed, it would appear that the bicyclist is the only one responsible if we aren’t even aware there was another person in that vehicle in the first place.

    Rewrite it to something like, “Driver of semi truck swerves into bike line, striking and killing cyclist” and you absolutely change the entire tone of the message. I was going to put the name of the driver, but it’s not immediately apparent in any of the articles I looked up real quick. They tell me the name of the company that owns the truck, as well as the name of a witness. So in this “shared responsibility” advocacy, who else is responsible here?

    But you’re right, this is the Tribune we’re talking about so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Except when I remember that lots and lots of people actually still read it, either in print or online. I find it disappointing that the author(s) of the article don’t realize they are just encouraging the behavior. Unless they do realize it…

  • johnaustingreenfield

    Driver’s name is Antonio Navarro, 37, from Algonquin.

  • Matt

    Thanks John, but the name itself wasn’t my point. It was more that it was not immediately available, and there was more info about the victim, trucking company, and witnesses than the driver himself.

    It’s hard to see these objectively when the news media reporting on them only paints half the picture.

  • Going from the dictionary on my Mac as one, rarely-changing source of the definition of “accident”: “an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally”.

    These crashes were probably unintentional, but “unexpected”? Nah. Bicyclists are to be expected on all streets and roads (except interstates). People’s behaviors on streets and roads are well documented and understood. The solutions are even known, but not implemented.

    Crash, collision, and incident are all better terms: they are more definitive and objective.

  • Matt

    Ok thanks, I guess. If the Tribune redacted the story and replaced all instances of “accident” with “crash” and reissued it, then even went so far as to issue a public apology saying sorry for offending anyone by calling them accidents instead of crashes, would that make you feel better?

    The article was pretty terrible, not because of the words chosen to express the message, but the actual message itself. The funny thing is, I don’t disagree with you at all, I just think there are for more worthy points to focus on than the definition and use of a specific word.

    Solutions are known, yes I agree, but calling these crashes instead of accidents is not one of them.

  • Matt

    Here, I did it for them. Is it ok now? It still sounds pretty terrible to me. For what it’s worth the word “accidents” was in the article four times.

    Bicyclists have been out in force this summer in our increasingly bicycle-friendly — but also increasingly traffic-throttled — city. Bikers jostle for position and dodge hazards — construction zones, ripped-up pavement, oblivious motorists.

    As they maneuver streets and sidewalks, they know danger can loom at any moment. A car door opens unexpectedly. A motorist swerves. Pedestrians stride into the bike path without a glance. Most bicyclists in crashes escape with a few scrapes and a bent bike frame. Some aren’t so lucky.

    The deadly toll this summer:

    •In June, 29-year-old bicycle messenger Blaine Klingenberg was headed for Lake Michigan after work when he was struck and killed by a tour bus on North Michigan Avenue. He was a few hundred yards from Oak Street Beach.

    In July, 25-year-old Virginia Murray died when her Divvy bike collided with a flatbed truck. Murray, who was planning to pursue a master’s degree in library sciences, became the first bike-sharing bicyclist to be killed in the United States, according to bike-share experts.

    •In August, 20-year-old Lisa Kuivinen, a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, was bicycling on North Milwaukee Avenue when a semi crossed into the bike lane and struck her.

    •A day later, Francisco Cruz, 58, was struck by a cargo van driver while biking in West Garfield Park.

    Those crashes mirror a nationwide trend. Bicycle fatalities increased by 12.2 percent in 2015, according to a report released Monday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That’s the highest level since 1995. The NHTSA also reports a modestly more hopeful figure: Some 45,000 people were injured in biking crashes during 2015, down from about 50,000 the year before.

    In Chicago, there were 1,663 crashes between bikes and vehicles reported in 2014. That’s 27 percent higher than in 2005. There were six fatalities in 2014, double the previous year’s toll. That wasn’t Chicago’s deadliest year since 2005: Eight bicyclists died in 2012.

    Earlier this year the Illinois General Assembly overwhelmingly passed a law to clarify: Bicyclists and other motorists share the same rights and responsibilities. That law takes effect Jan. 1, but we hope every driver and every bicyclist abides by this commonsense message right now. That means obeying traffic lights, watching for pedestrians, respecting other drivers — whether they’re in an Escalade or on a fixie. Today. In the commute home. In the jaunt to the lakefront. In travels across the city.

    Yes, we know that the streets are crowded and that motorists and bicyclists often feel like they are in a struggle for road supremacy. Some may think they shouldn’t have to obey the same rules of the road as motorists. Some don’t appear to be obeying any rules except survival of the fastest.

    Chicago now has a 290-mile bikeway network, snaking through every ward. In April, Mayor Rahm Emanuel set a new goal: Build 50 more miles of better-protected bike lanes in the next three years. That means more curb-protected bike lanes to increase bike-car separation and reduce the chances of collisions. But those chances will never be zero.

    The proliferation of bike lanes — and bikes — means that there’s always going to be the potential for confusion and crashes.

    Motorists don’t own the road, we know that. But cars do outweigh the average bicycle by a couple of thousand pounds at least. So bicyclists have to be particularly cautious on heavily traveled city streets where bike lanes may not exist, or may be buffered or shared, not protected by curbs. Defensive biking is always a good idea. And motorists with the obvious advantage need to be extra watchful.

    This isn’t the first time we’ve said this, nor will it be the last: Everyone, slow down. The streets aren’t a motorist vs. bicyclist Thunderdome. Exercise some basic courtesy and caution so that all of us get wherever we’re going safely. Remember Blaine, Virginia, Lisa and Francisco.

    Please don’t add your name, or anyone else’s, to the list.

  • Matt

    So if they were not unexpected, in the eyes of the drivers, then wouldn’t that make this intentional? If they expected the bicyclist to be in their path yet still drove into that path, then I think we are discussing something completely different. Again, by the definition, I would say they were unexpected – which is just a part of the bigger problem here.

    As a frequent bicycle rider myself (personal and Divvy), I have an expectation that other road users don’t want to hit me. I don’t think that expectation is unrealistic. So unless there was any malice or intent in any of those four incidents (maybe the hit and run, we don’t know) then I think accident is technically an appropriate term.

    The funny thing is, the Tribune didn’t call any four of them an accident in this article. What they did do, however, is make the article look like they are talking to both motorists and cyclists, then proceed to basically throw the entire thing on cyclists’ behavior. It’s the same thing we see in comment sections, just far worse because the Tribune is “supposed” to be a credible source of unbiased information. I try not to laugh as I type that…

  • johnaustingreenfield
  • Matt

    It’s unfortunate that’s the main point you take away from that article. The real improvement is this:

    “In the past, investigators from a specialized unit, the Accident Investigation Squad, were sent only when at least one victim had died or was deemed by first responders to be ‘likely to die.'”

    That article or “change” was 3 years ago. 3 years after that change, we still have this:

    http://www.streetsblog.org/2016/07/06/with-matthew-van-ohlens-killer-still-at-large-nypd-is-in-bike-blitz-mode/

    So, back to my point, changing the word accident to crash does NOTHING to change any of the behavior. Not driver behavior, not cyclists’ behavior, not even NYPD behavior even though they are the ones that made the change.

  • No, it wouldn’t make me feel better.

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