Male Cyclist, 20, in Critical Condition After Being Doored, Struck, Dragged

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The 5900 block of West Irving Park, looking east. Image: Google Street View

A 20-year-old man is in critical condition after a motorist opened a car door in his path while he was biking in Portage Park, throwing the man into traffic, where the bike rider was then struck and dragged by an SUV driver.

At about 1:40 p.m. this afternoon, the man, whose name has not been released, was biking on the 5900 block of Irving Park Road, near Marmora Avenue and the Patio Theater, according to Office Kevin Quaid from Police News Affairs. According to a report from DNAinfo, witnesses said the man was riding east.

When a motorist in a parked car opened the door without looking, the man struck the door and flew off his bike into traffic, Quaid said. Another driver in an SUV then struck the man and dragged him. Witnesses said it was a small red SUV and than the bike rider was knocked out of his shoes, DNA reported. A posted by Christopher Smith shows the cyclist was on a black fixed gear or single-speed bike with at least one hand brake.

The man was taken to Illinois Masonic Hospital in critical condition, Quaid said. Both drivers stayed at the scene; the motorist in the parked car was ticketed for opening a car door into traffic.

Several Chicago cyclists have been seriously injured or killed in a similar manner in recent memory. In 2008 graphic designer Clinton Miceli, 22, was doored by an SUV driver on the 900 block of north LaSalle. 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. The back of his skull, his pelvis, a shoulder blade, and 23 of 24 ribs were fractured, and he suffered a punctured lung and lacerated shoulder. Valenta, 27 at the time, has since made a miraculous recovery, but the second driver was never caught.

Four people were killed while biking in Chicago this summer. Our thoughts are with the injured man in hopes that he will survive his injuries and, like Valenta, make a full recovery.

  • HeyYouKidsGetOffMyLawn

    Are drivers in Chicago brain dead? WHAT THE ACTUAL EFF.

  • JacobEPeters

    Just unknowingly reckless and oblivious to the danger they create since their vehicles have been engineered to eliminate all risk and danger from their user experience. Understanding the danger that a 2 ton vehicle can pose is the greatest missing component of our driver education system.

  • Dooring crashes are about 20 percent (give or take depending on the year) of bike crashes in Chicago. I’d know more specific figures if the Illinois Department of Transportation didn’t report them separately and make people ask separately for the data.

    Anyway, this goes to show that a dooring crash can be just as dangerous as another kind of crash. I think, in response, the city must no longer install “sharrows” and conventional bike lanes and must protected bike lanes in most places and buffered bike lanes in the places where there’s resistance to moving parking. It’s really the least that CDOT can do while we wait for the Illinois General Assembly to write a more stringent driver’s education license and renewal test.

  • Courtney

    I’m all for physically protected bike lanes, concrete or some other hard substance being a barrier between bikes and cars. Of course this could make drivers even more lackadaisical in watching out for bikes. Considering the number of accidents and fatalities in 2016 alone more has to be done and drivers need to be held accountable.

  • cozzyd

    Seeing as there is essentially no traffic enforcement, yes.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    Steven and I part ways on this issue. While protected and buffered bike lanes are preferable to conventional lanes and sharrows, I feel that installing the latter is better than doing nothing.

    When there’s truly not enough road width for PBLs and BBLs, properly installed sharrows (bike-and-chevron markings) help prevent doorings. They remind drivers to be on the lookout for bikes, and if a line is striped to the left of the parking lane, it encourages motorists to park closer to the curb. The bike symbols should be installed three or four feet away from the parking line to encourage cyclists to ride out of the door zone.

    In cases where there’s room for conventional bike lanes, but not buffered lanes, I agree that visual cues should be added to discourage cyclists from using the righthand side of the bike lane, which lies within the door zone. Perhaps this could be done by adding crosshatching on the right side of the bike lane, essentially making it a buffered bike lane where the rideable portion of the lane is narrower.

  • Jeff Gio

    What are the complications of advocating that the bike+chevron signage be in the middle of the road and that cyclists take the middle of the lane thereby setting the pace for all traffic. Of course, motorists may only pass when oncoming traffic lane is clear.

    I understand in the short term we will all get harassed, but this might be a blazen way to set a new standard on designated sharrows. If i’m not mistaken, the existing laws allow it too.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    It’s been done on Wells south of the River, and Kinzie between Dearborn and Wells. Personally, I find it to be a pretty useless treatment — I typically ride at about 10 mph, so I’m not interested in trying to take the lane in downtown traffic.

  • rohmen

    Just curious on the idea behind more stringent driver’s education license and renewal testing helping on dooring accidents. Are there actual studies suggesting doorings happen based on a lack of education?

    I feel like doorings are like the pedestrian in the crosswalk problem. Anyone taking a test would likely answer correctly that they should stop for pedestrians in crosswalks (and likewise check for traffic/cyclists before opening a door), but the reality is people simply don’t do it in practice. I’m sure increased education helps, but I’d rather see the enforcement get much, much stricter.

  • planetshwoop

    I don’t have data, but allegory: in the Netherlands you are taught to open the driver’s side door with your right hand. In other words, you have to cross over and look at what is around you before you open the door to ensure you check for anything in the roadway before opening the door.

  • One driver training tip I’ve heard be standard in some other countries is that people are taught to open doors with their right hand instead of left, to cause the body to twist to the left to get a view.

    But I think simply training people to look before opening doors would have a profound effect. I don’t know if it’s been studied, but we successfully trained most people to wear a seatbelt!

  • There’s ALWAYS road width. It’s a matter of how you slice and dice the road from curb to curb. A travel lane is 10-11 feet in Chicago, so for a two-way with two travel lanes you need 22 feet. But most streets are 40-46 feet wide, so that leaves 18-24 feet left to be divided amongst parking lanes and bike lanes. It’s now a choice left to CDOT, the alderman, and the parking meter operator ;)

  • I don’t think more concrete separation will have that affect. Concrete does things like cause drivers to make sharper turns and turn slower at intersections, which puts them at a 90 degree/right angle view with bicyclists who are traveling in the same direction as the motorist just was. Without the concrete (usually as a bump out), motorists can make a lazy, wide turn and easily right hook the cyclist.

    That’s one example.

    Where CDOT has built concrete separation, like on Clybourn in the section between the intersections of Larrabee and Halsted, isn’t very helpful because it’s on the straight/through sections of a street. Most crashes occur within or approaching intersections. The concrete separation on Division between Sedgwick and Clybourn, in both directions, is MUCH more helpful.

    What CDOT hasn’t experimented with is bike lanes adjacent to travel lanes which are raised, even past intersections with side streets. I think this is a better solution than many of the small concrete islands of aesthetic desolation that CDOT has built.

  • Frank Kotter

    TRUE. But this is really such a tiny detail about why things are so much better there. Streets are designed to avoid conflict and put all road users on equal footing.

    Just take this run-of-the-mill neighborhood intersection for example:

    https://goo.gl/maps/RBcdd4yRdGN2

  • JKM13

    Is this heaven?

  • planetshwoop

    There’s no on-street parking; the space is taken up by bike paths instead.

  • JKM13

    This will end up being, by far, the biggest issue of the parking privatization. Locking in 2008 street configurations (just as cities across the US began to question the parking status quo) for 75 years. Think of how much this has hampered us already in the last 8 years. Now imagine the ways New York, San Fran, DC, Seattle, Nashville, etc may have reconfigured their streets in 2060 or 2070, especially with autonomous vehicles, while Chicago is basically handcuffed to how our streets looked in 2008.

  • disqus_SBxbICDCIX

    problem with buffered lanes like those on Milwaukee between Division and Augusta, is that bicycles will ride 3, 4 and even 5 deep all they through the buffer. They just treat it like an expansion of the bike lane during rush hour. This is not the exception or just a few bad apples, I walk this area of Milwaukee every day at rush and I’d estimate 95% of riders treat the road this way – they ignore the buffer on both sides of the lane, ride right next to parked cars and right next to and even into the traffic. I have never once seen a bicycle turn their head to look for traffic before suddenly swerving into the buffer area to go around another bicycle or even into the traffic. Just just fling their bodies and bicycles out there and it is the drivers fault of they get hit.

    The new law – making bicycles equal to cars – is only going to make it worse because they are being treated as equal but without being held to any of the same responsibilities as cars and buses and trucks and motorcycles.

    Using the roads as a vehicle is a privilege – not a right. And that goes for all vehicles – motorized or not.

  • I’m not sure what you think is a problem here.

    Is it that people are riding 3-5 people, side-by-side, in a single bike lane, and that the person on the right side is in the door zone?

  • ManeeVee

    Okay. So how many people have to get critically hurt or die before we realize our streets cannot accommodate bike riders and cars at the same time? It’s not a matter of car drivers not being careful – it’s a matter of the disproportionate vulnerability of a bike rider compared with a car, and the risks inherent in riding on busy city streets. One of my brothers was “doored” and thrown from his bike many years ago. That was the last time he ever risked riding a bike in the city. He realized it was just too dangerous. That was over 20 years ago. It’s worse now.

    Is riding a bike worth risking your life? And all the “should be able to’s” in the world don’t make risky behavior any safer. We should be able to leave our doors unlocked and windows opened while we sleep at night too, and our keys in the car, but no one with half a brain would not do it. Bike riders are taking huge risks.

  • neroden

    There are much lower crash rates in countries which have more stringent drivers’ license tests. Like most of Western Europe. Even Britain, which is pretty car-obsessed. And Autobahn-loving Germany.

    We in the US have no standards for drivers’ licenses and don’t even take them away from people who kill repeatedly. It’s disgraceful.

  • Richqb

    Actually, it is a matter of drivers not being careful. Being doored is completely a question of drivers not looking before opening their doors. Are there risks? Absolutely. But they’re risks that aren’t that different from those assumed by motorcyclists.but the difference is that most drivers allow motorcyclists the right to be on the same road (though there’s a reason there are all those “start seeing motorcycles” bumper stickers. Many drivers don’t afford cyclists the same rights. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been honked at by a driver when there’s no bike lane and I have to ride in a lane of traffic. I’m not going to ride close enough to the parked cars to get doors so you can get to the Loop 5 mins faster.

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