Skip to content

Posts from the Bicycling Category

No Comments

Critical Mass and Klingenberg Ride Honor Fallen Cyclists, Crash Survivors

13516317_10100968451414344_4747120308117344386_n

Hundreds of Critical Mass riders raised their bikes in a salute to fallen courier Blaine Klingenberg last Friday at Michigan and Oak. Photo: Juley-Ann Perez

There have been far too many bicycle crashes with injuries or fatalities in northeast Illinois in recent months, especially during the past three weeks. With all of the tragic news, one bright spot has been that recent events have inspired bike riders from different walks of life to unite to honor fallen bicyclists and survivors of traffic violence.

Last Friday, Chicago’s monthly Critical Mass ride paid a visit to Scott Jacobson, who was recently released from the hospital, almost two months after being struck and dragged hundreds of feet by a hit-and-run driver in Bridgeport. The ride also stopped at Michigan and Oak to pay tribute to courier Blaine Klingenberg, who was run over and killed by a tour bus driver at the intersection two weeks ago.

Family, friends, and colleagues of the messenger have also announced “RYB Fest: Blaine ‘Beezy’ Klingenberg Memorial Day,” a bike ride and barbecue to which they’re inviting the entire cycling community, named for the hashtag #RideYoBike. The Facebook event describes the event as a “day of remembrance and celebration, and to remind all that bicyclists should also be viewed as equals when riding on the road.” Here’s the basic info on the memorial ride:

RYB Fest: Blaine ‘Beezy’ Klingenberg Memorial Day
Saturday, July 2, 12:30 p.m.
Humboldt Park Formal Garden, northwest corner of Division and Humboldt
Ride ends with a barbecue at Richard Clark Park, 3400 North Rockwell

13532813_1085160078198355_9112034368918786056_n 2

The route map for RYB Fest. Image: Chicago Bike Messenger Association

Jacobson, 47, was riding home after biking with his two sons to wrestling practice on Monday, May 2. Near the intersection of 35th and Lowe in Bridgeport, SUV driver Joshua Thomas, 26, made a U-turn and struck him, according to police.

Jacobson was dragged hundreds of feet until bystanders ran to stop the vehicle. The cyclist’s pelvis was fractured in three places, including the ball of the upper femur, which fits in the hip socket. He suffered severe road rash over much of his body, with muscle and bone visible in places.

Inexplicably, Thomas was initially only charged with misdemeanors. It remains to be seen whether the Cook County state’s attorney’s office will level more serious charges against the motorist. While Jacobson came home from the hospital last week, it will take several more months and multiple surgeries before he can resume work. A GoFundMe page has been established to help support the family until Jacobson is back on his feet.

Klingenberg, 29, moved to Chicago 13 months ago from his hometown of Bakersfield, California, to join buddies who already lived here and pursue his dream of becoming a big-city bike courier, according to his girlfriend Maja Perez, 28, who followed him soon afterwards.

On Wednesday, June 15, at about 5:30 p.m., Klingenberg was riding northbound on Michgian to Oak Street Beach to meet up with friends after work. When he reached Oak Street, he was fatally struck and dragged by double-decker tour bus driver Charla A. Harris, 51, an employee of Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Co.

Read more…

29 Comments

Police Blamed Courier for Fatal Crash; Witnesses Say Bus Driver Ran Stoplight

BlaineMajaWedding_1 (1)

Blaine Klingenberg and Maja Perez at her brother’s wedding in March. Photo courtesy of Perez

[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.]

The intersection of Michigan and Oak, at the north end of the Magnificent Mile, is a complex and intimidating junction. Here, Michigan is a massive seven-lane boulevard, while Oak is a broad, two-lane street with turn lanes, lined with pricey boutiques and luxury high-rises. To the north are on- and off-ramps for Lake Shore Drive as well as curving roadways leading to and from Inner Lake Shore Drive. At the northeast corner there’s an underpass leading to the Lakefront Trail and Oak Street Beach. As such, this crossroads is often filled with a chaotic mix of pedestrians, bike riders, private cars, taxis, and buses.

Bike courier Blaine “Beezy” Klingenberg, 29, lost his life in the daunting intersection of Michigan and Oak on Wednesday, June 15, after being run over and dragged by a double-decker tour bus at the height of the evening rush. Described by employers and colleagues as a hard-working, likable, and safety-minded messenger, Klingenberg has been posthumously reduced to a poster boy for irresponsible urban cycling.

The driver, 51-year-old Charla A. Henry, is employed by Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Co. She was the second company employee to fatally strike a vulnerable road user on Michigan Avenue within the last seven months.

The Chicago Police Department along with major news outlets, reported that Klingenberg brought on his own death by pedaling through a red light. But in exclusive interviews with the Reader, two witnesses say they’re convinced the bus driver was at least partly responsible for Klingenberg’s death because she entered the intersection after the light turned red.

Klingenberg, a native of Bakersfield, California, worked for Advanced Messenger Service, delivering envelopes and packages via a large, yellow, Danish-style cargo bike.

27821715812_f6963204e3_o

As of Friday night, a white-painted bike wheel hung on a pole at the crash site as a memorial to Klingenberg. Photo: John Greenfield

On June 15, while he was finishing up the day’s runs, he posted on Facebook, “Who’s down for the lake?” According to friends, he planned to meet up with other couriers after work at Oak Street Beach.

Here’s the CPD’s account of the fatal collision from the crash report: Around 5:30 PM Klingenberg was riding his cargo bike north on Michigan. Meanwhile, the bus driver was heading westbound on Oak, east of Michigan (where Oak is officially called East Lake Shore Drive).

“The victim disregarded the light at Oak and turned into the bus, causing the collision,” the crash report stated, laying the blame squarely on Klingenberg.

Henry ran over Klingenberg, who was dragged and pinned under the bus’s middle-right side. Firefighters had to use large airbags to lift the bus off him. Klingenberg was rushed to Northwestern Memorial Hospital and pronounced dead on arrival.

Henry has not been issued traffic citations or charged with a crime.

Initial reports by CBS 2, ABC 7, DNAinfo, and Chicagoist essentially took the police version at face value.

At least two eyewitnesses tell a different story.

Read more…

No Comments

Cycle of Peace Event Will Bring 500 Bikes to Kids in North Lawndale

IMG_6904 (800x533)

Kids at the Bronzeville Bike Builder bike giveaway in 2014. Photo: TAG Foundation

Illinois Bicycle Lawyers - Mike Keating logo

Two years ago the TAG Foundation and Working Bikes joined forces to stage the Bronzeville Bike Builder, distributing 500 refurbished bicycles to local families. Kids 12 and under were invited to come learn bike safety skills and leave with a free cycle.

This year they’ve partnered with the North Lawndale Restorative Justice Hub to stage the event, rebranded as The Cycle of Peace, on the West Side. The bike giveaway takes place on Saturday, June 25, at North Lawndale College Prep’s Collins Campus, 1313 South Sacramento, starting at 9 a.m.

The TAG Foundation, a nonprofit promoting sustainable, healthy, and affordable living in Chicago’s communities of color, is run by Angela Ford, a sustainability consultant. The foundation has done much of the coordination for the event. “Putting 500 bikes in a neighborhood changes people’s perception of the community,” Ford said. “It also changes a community’s perspective on bicycles as active transportation.”

Working Bikes, a community bike shop located at 2434 South Western in Little Village, is sending 13 shipping containers of 500 bikes to partners in other nations this year. They view the Cycle of Peace as a similar initiative: getting bikes in the hands of youth who can benefit from them, right here in Chicago.

Read more…

6 Comments

An Epidemic of Bike Crashes; Bad Trail Design May Have Caused One of Them

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 3.39.07 AM

One of several Lakefront Trail intersections in Uptown that are hazardous “mixing bowl” junctions with east-west streets and Lake Shore Drive access ramps. Moreover, confusing signage tells drivers to “Stop” while path users are ordered to “Yield.” A 61-year-old cyclist was critically injured at the Wilson intersection last Tuesday. Photo: Hui Hwa Nam.

It’s been an awful two weeks for bike collisions in northeast Illinois. On Tuesday of last week, a 29-year-old woman was struck and injured on her bicycle at Jackson and Homan, by a police officer who witnesses say ran a red light without using lights or sirens. That Wednesday bike courier Blaine Klingenberg was fatally struck by a tour bus driver at Oak and Michigan, the first Chicago bike fatality of 2016

Last Monday a pedicab operator reportedly had his vehicle struck by a hit-and-run minivan driver at South Water and Michigan, but escaped without injury. Last Tuesday schoolteacher Janice Wendling and her husband Mark were fatally struck while cycling in Morris, Illinois, by one of Janice’s former students.

Also last Tuesday, an SUV driver critically injured a 61-year-old man on a bike at Wilson and the Lakefront Trail. And we’re told that on Thursday a CTA driver struck a bicyclist on Milwaukee just north of the Bloomingdale Trail, causing minor injuries.

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 3.36.22 AM

Fallen cyclist Janice Wendling.

There was one piece of good news about local bike crashes on Thursday. We learned that Scott Jacobson, who suffered a broken pelvis and horrific road rash after he was struck by a driver and dragged hundreds of feet on May 2 in Bridgeport, was finally sent home from the hospital.

A route has been proposed for Friday’s Chicago Critical Mass ride that would visit the Klingenberg crash site, as well as the white “ghost bike” memorials for several other fallen cyclists. The map includes a stop at Jacobson’s home in McKinley Park to wish him a fast and full recovery – I’ve been told his family is looking forward to welcoming the riders.

Last Tuesday’s crash in Uptown, which took place at a spot where Wilson and access ramps for Lake Shore Drive converge with the shoreline path, highlights an intersection design and signage problem with the trail. At around 7:20 p.m., the bike rider was heading north on the path and was struck by the eastbound driver as he crossed Wilson, according to police.

The victim was transported to Illinois Masonic Hospital in critical condition, police said. DNAinfo reported that one of the man’s wheels was left in the grass near the crash location.

The SUV driver, Liliana Flores, 32, a Park Forest resident, received three traffic citations and was scheduled for a hearing in traffic court on Monday, August 8, according to police. As of Thursday evening, charges were still not available.

As I’ve pointed out before, the unorthodox configuration and signage of this Lakefront Trail intersection, and similar junctions at Montrose, Lawrence, and Foster, create a confusing and hazardous situation. Not only do the east-west street, the LSD ramps, and the trail converge in one location, creating a chaotic “mixing bowl” effect, the signs at the intersections are seemingly paradoxical.

Read more…

No Comments

Support West Town Bikes at Chicago’s Ninth Annual Tour de Fat Festival

2015 TDF Parade Ride

The bike parade at last year’s Chicago Tour de Fat. Photo: West Town Bikes

Illinois Bicycle Lawyers - Mike Keating logo

New Belgium Brewing Company’s Tour de Fat, an annual celebration of bike culture and the most important fundraiser for West Town Bikes, will mark its ninth year in Chicago next month. The festival takes place on Saturday, July 9 in Palmer Square Park, 2200 North Kedzie, in the east side of the park instead of its usual spot on the west side of the green space. “It looks like it will be bigger and better than ever,” says Alex Wilson, director of the Humboldt Park-based bicycle education center.

The fest includes live music, theatrical performances and sideshows on many stages, a corral where you can test-ride freak bikes, and plenty of New Belgium’s craft beer, and all of the proceeds go to West Town, as well as CHIRP Radio, a local community radio station. “Last year was our biggest year ever, netting over $50,000 for West Town,” Wilson says. “This year we’re expecting to top that.”

Wilson noted that money from the Tour de Fat has been crucial for funding West Town-run after-school programs at six public schools along the Bloomingdale Trail, aka The 606. “The program started in spring 2015, but the Tour made it possible to continue it into fall 2015 and spring 2016,” he says.

These after-school bike clubs mostly included kids from grades 3-8. The students learned safe cycling, basic bike maintenance and repair, health and wellness, social and environmental responsibility. “Our goal was to encourage the students and their families to use The 606,” Wilson says. The car-free space was ideal for teaching the youth bike-handling skills.

“Ever since West Town opened in 2004, a major goal of ours has been to educate Humboldt Park residents about The 606,” Wilson says. “Now that the trail has come to fruition, there are concerns about whether those who advocated for the trail will be able to stay here and enjoy it, but that’s a conversation for another day.”

In addition to funding programming, fundraisers like the Tour are essential for bankrolling day-to-day operations at West Town. “It helps pay my salary and that of our administrative staff, as well as pay rent and utilities – things that keep the lights on,” Wilson says. “Most grants won’t cover these things, so events like Tour de Fat are really important to the livelihood of West Town Bikes.”

Read more…

65 Comments

Manor Greenway Could Become City’s Best By Cutting Cut-Through Motorists

The Manor neighborhood greenway builds two new connections to Horner and Ronan Parks, and adds biking and walking infrastructure to an on-street segment highlighted in green.

The Manor neighborhood greenway builds two new connections to Horner and Ronan Parks, and adds biking and walking infrastructure to an on-street segment highlighted in green.

Last week, the Chicago Department of Transportation revealed its proposal to connect riverfront paths, reduce cut through traffic, and make it safer to walk and bike along streets in the Ravenswood Manor neighborhood. CDOT developed the plan for a “neighborhood greenway” between Horner Park and Ronan Park along the north branch of the Chicago River over the past two years, at the request of 33rd Ward Alder Deb Mell, and the Transportation Action Committee she started.

I’ve been a member of the TAC since its beginning, and I know the plan well. While I wasn’t able to attend the meeting, I think that Patty Wetli’s article in DNAinfo thoroughly captured the concerns people have.

The project was initiated because there’s a gap between two riverfront trails in Horner and Ronan Parks, and Ravenswood Manor residents have been complaining about cut-through traffic, motorists who roll past stop signs, and speeding, for decades. The neighborhood greenway plan includes redesigning a handful of intersections, laying down a short multi-use paths to connect the parks to the streets, and pilot what would be a pioneering traffic diverter.

Homes abut the river in Ravenswood Manor, so there is no public space along the river on which to build a trail. The neighborhood greenway  would be an on-street connection.

On the project’s south end, CDOT would build a small path in the park so people in the park could reach the start of the on-street route at the intersection of Montrose Ave. and Manor Ave. To create a safer crossing here, CDOT would build a concrete island with two waiting areas, one for people using the route, and another for people walking on the sidewalk. This way, people can cross one direction of traffic at a time. The island blocks left turns from Manor Ave. onto Montrose Ave. and left turns from Montrose Ave. to Manor Ave. would use a dedicated lane. CDOT would build a raised crosswalk across Manor Ave. to slow incoming motorists.

CDOT showed this rendering of how the traffic diverter. Previous versions used concrete to physically prevent going straight. Image: CDOT

CDOT showed this rendering, looking north on Manor at Wilson, of how the traffic diverter would work. Previous proposals, presented to the TAC, used concrete to physically prevent vehicles from going straight. Image: CDOT

On the north end, CDOT proposed building a new, short trail on an extended parkway along Lawrence between Manor Ave. and the Ronan Park entrance. A traffic island that’s nearly identically to the one at Montrose would offer a safe waiting area for people to cross in two-stages. There would be another raised crosswalk here at the entry of the neighborhood greenway.

The neighborhood greenway’s on-street route would be the city’s third. The first was installed on Berteau Avenue in Lakeview in 2014, and the second, albeit without any infrastructure changes, was built on Wood Street in Wicker Park.

The best way to increase safety for people walking and biking on neighborhood greenways is to limit speed and reduce the number of cars. Manor Ave.’s speed limit is already 20 m.p.h. but residents had said it was common to see people driving faster. The neighborhood’s many families, a park and a ballet school, all mean that lots of children are crossing Manor Ave. Read more…

6 Comments

West Garfield and Austin Got Divvy Bikes Last Week. Will Anyone Use Them?

fob_transit-divvy-expansion-west-rob-900

Rob, an Austin resident and substitute teacher, by the new Divvy station at Austin Park. Photo: John Greenfield

[Last November 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 on the day it comes out online; you can read the remainder on the Reader’s website or in print. The paper hits the streets on Thursdays.]

Imagine if the Chicago Transit Authority, a public transportation system that’s subsidized by taxpayer dollars, were mostly serving wealthy white folks. That would be messed up, right?

Last year the Chicago Department of Transportation admitted to a similarly lopsided situation with the publicly funded Divvy network, which was launched in 2013. Its survey of annual members revealed that, as is the case with most U.S. bike-share systems, membership skewed heavily white, affluent, well educated, young, and male.

That finding was no surprise. Arguably, Divvy got off on the wrong foot from a social justice standpoint in 2013, when the city concentrated most of the first 300 docking stations in dense, well-off areas downtown and on the near-north lakefront in an effort to make the system financially sustainable.

And while stations in these areas were generally installed with tight quarter-mile spacing, making it easy to walk to and from the docks from many destinations, the rest of the city typically got less-convenient half-mile spacing. Moreover, the $75 (now $99) annual membership fee and credit card requirements were financial barriers to low-income and unbanked Chicagoans.

To its credit, CDOT has recently taken steps to address Divvy’s equity problem. When the system added 175 more stations last summer, many of them went to low-to-moderate-income, predominantly African-American and Latino communities on the south and west sides.

And last July the department rolled out the Divvy for Everyone (D4E) program, which offers onetime $5 annual memberships to Chicagoans making $35,310 or less a year and waives the credit card requirement. More than 1,300 residents have signed up so far, well over CDOT’s target of 750 for the year.

Read more…

13 Comments

Please Stop Using Blaine Klingenberg’s Death as an Excuse to Shame Cyclists

Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 5.17.00 PM

CBS Chicago’s Dorothy Tucker at Wednesday’s crash site. CBS used the fatal collision as an opportunity to scold bicyclists. Screenshot from the CBS report.

Family and friends, and the Chicago bike courier community, are mourning the death of Blaine Klingenberg, 29, who was fatally struck on his bike by a tour bus driver Wednesday evening at Oak Street and Michigan Avenue.

Meanwhile online commenters are heartlessly ridiculing the victim, arguing that he foolishly brought on his own demise. Even mainstream news sources are running pieces implying that Klingenberg’s actions were largely to blame for the fatal crash. Moreover, they’re using this tragedy as a chance to lecture bike riders about safety, as if reckless biking, rather than dangerous driving, was the leading cause of carnage on our streets.

First let’s get one thing straight. Despite what you may have read elsewhere, we don’t know exactly what caused this tragedy. Here’s the information we do have at this point.

Shortly after finishing a day of finishing a day of delivery work for Advanced Messenger Service, on Wednesday at around 5:30 p.m. Klingenberg was riding his cargo bike north on Michigan with a small group of cyclists, authorities say. Facebook posts indicate that Klingenberg and friends were heading to Oak Street Beach, which can be accessed by a path and underpass at the northeast corner of Oak and Michigan.

At the same time, a 51-year-old woman was driving a Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Co. double-decker tour bus westbound, east of Michigan, according to Officer Nicole Trainor from Police News Affairs. East of Michigan, Oak is officially called East Lake Shore Drive.

As the bus operator drove west, she ran over Klingenberg, pinning him under the bus, Trainor said. She added that a diagram of the collision on the crash report does not indicate that either the bike rider or the bus driver was turning. The cyclist was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

IMG_7653

Klingenberg was biking north on Michigan (yellow line), probably to access the path to Oak Street Beach (dotted line). The bus operator was heading west on East Lake Shore Drive / Oak (red line). Some witnesses said both both the cyclist and bus driver had a red, because southbound traffic on Inner Lake Shore Drive (blue line) had a left-turn signal. Note that this diagram does not necessarily indicate the exact location where the crash occurred. Original image: Google Maps

However, the crash report states, “The victim disregarded the [red] light at Oak and turned into the bus, causing the fatal collision.” If Klingenberg was heading to Oak Street Beach, he would have made a slight northeast turn at Oak Street to enter a curb ramp at the northeast corner of the intersection and access the path to the beach underpass. No charges have been filed against the bus operator.

The officer who filled out the report was clearly laying the blame for the crash on the bike rider. However, things may not be that cut-and-dried. Unlike the bus driver, Klingenberg isn’t alive to tell his side of the story.

“I have seen instances time and time again in which [Chicago Police Department] blames a cyclist for a collision when it wasn’t their fault,” Jim Freeman of the bike-focused law firm FK Law (a Streetsblog Chicago sponsor) said this morning. “I guarantee when the truth comes out it won’t be as simple as ‘the cyclist blew the red.'”

Read more…

2 Comments

Here’s How the Wood Street Greenway Could Better Prioritize Bicycling

wolcott-and-wicker-park-intersection

The Wood Street neighborhood greenway is supposed to be specially designed to make cycling safer and more convenient. The black line shows where a curb could go to solidify the turn as part of the route. Image: Google Street View

Over the past few years the city has built a handful of “neighborhood greenways,” projects that involve small changes to side streets that can have a big impact in making them more bikeable, while connecting residential areas to the wider network of bike lanes. If the Chicago Department of Transportation picks up the pace on building these bikeways, it could actually create the kind of “8 to 80” bike network that the department says is its goal, and the Active Transportation Alliance and other advocates have been pushing for.

Neighborhood greenways can involve a number of different strategies that discourage cut-through traffic and speeding on residential streets, while making cycling more efficient and comfortable. For example, Chicago’s first neighborhood greenway on Berteau between Lincoln and Clark, completed in 2013, involved removing four-way stop signs at an intersection and replaced them with a traffic circle. This forces drivers to slow down to maneuver around the circle, but it doesn’t hinder bicyclists.

The Berteau route also includes sections of contraflow bike lane that allow two-way cycling on one-way segments of the street; a reduced 20 mph speed limit; curb bump-outs that shorten crossing distances for pedestrians and discourage fast turns by drivers; and a pedestrian island at Clark with a special cut-through that allows eastbound contraflow bike traffic to turn north onto Clark.

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 5.54.26 PM

The route of the Wood Street greenway between Division and Milwaukee. Image: Google Maps

However, the city’s second neighborhood greenway, completed in 2014 on Wood Street between Augusta and Milwaukee, doesn’t include any concrete infrastructure but only street markings. As such, the project was less effective making the street more bike-friendly. A bike infrastructure design from the Netherlands offers inspiration for additional changes that could be made to Wood that would emphasize the greenway’s role in the network and pilot a new kind of traffic calming in Chicago.

The Wood bike route makes three turns at Ellen, Wicker Park Avenue, and Wolcott – all within the span of two blocks. At the tricky “T” intersection of Wicker Park and Wolcott, bicyclists aren’t given any sort of priority.

Southbound bicyclists have to make a left turn from Wolcott to Wicker Park Ave. Signs here tell southbound cyclists that the greenway continues to the left, but they’re placed too close to the intersection. By the time a cyclist is close enough to read the sign and realize they need to turn left, it’s a little too late to conveniently merge left, and it’s also necessary to yield to oncoming traffic on Wolcott before turning. I’d argue that this doesn’t embody the safe and comfortable riding experience you’re supposed to enjoy on an neighborhood greenway.

In contrast, when you’re biking on a Dutch “fietsstraat” (bicycle street) in a town like Nijmegen (nigh-may-hen), cycling is prioritized even when the bike route turns from one street to another at a “T” intersection. This is indicated with signs and the red pavement – kind of like a red carpet – which is used throughout the Netherlands to denote bike-priority and bike-only routes. As the bikeway turns from one street to another at an intersection, the red pavement does, too.

“Shark’s teeth,” white triangular street markings that point in the opposite direction of traffic, indicate that those cyclists and motorists outside the red pavement must yield to those riding and driving on the red route.

Read more…

39 Comments

Marilyn Katz Uses Yesterday’s Tragedy as an Opportunity to Scold Bicyclists

Marilyn_Katz_source

Marilyn Katz

For a person who makes a living doing PR, Marilyn Katz, head of River North-based MK communications, sure has trouble getting her facts straight. In the wake of the tragic death of bike courier Blaine Klingenberg, 29, fatally struck yesterday evening by a tour bus driver at Oak and Michigan, Katz fired off an inaccurate and tone-deaf op-ed in the Chicago Tribune. I’m sure she meant well, but her windshield-perspective commentary really does more harm than good for the cause of reducing fatalities on Chicago streets.

First of all, in her piece titled “Make bicyclists accountable to the same rules of the road as motorists,” Katz writes from the assumption that Klingenberg is chiefly to blame for his own death. But as the Tribune itself reported, while some witnesses said the northbound cyclist ran a red light, others said the westbound Chicago Trolley driver also blew a red, because southbound traffic on Lake Shore Drive had a left-turn signal.

After the obligatory mention that she occasionally bicycles herself (known in bike advocacy circles as the “Some of My Best Friends Are Bike Lanes” talking point), Katz argues that Chicago’s increasing bike mode share is making the streets more hazardous, not to mention less convenient for drivers. “Klingenberg’s death should be a wake-up call for Chicago to rethink its bicycle policies,” she writes. “All of us who drive in the city know that one never knows what the cyclist next to, behind or in front of us will do. That needs to change.”

Right, because people operating a 3,000-pound car in our city, rather than a 30-pound bike, can always be counted on to travel predictably, legally and safely. It certainly is reassuring to know that Chicago motorists never drive at deadly speeds, barrel through red lights and stop signs, or recklessly swerve between lanes. It sounds like the vast majority of, say, the 130 Chicago traffic fatalities in 2013, must have been the fault of scofflaw bike riders.

“I’m… terrified as a driver — truly afraid that I will be the one who strikes a cyclist,” Katz writes. She argues that the solution to reducing the death toll isn’t more enforcement of traffic laws for motorists, lower urban speed limits, or safer street design, but rather licensing cyclists.

“Just as we require motorists or horse-drawn carriage drivers to pass the rules-of-the-road examination, so too should bicyclists,” Katz argues. Offering more bike education opportunities for residents would certainly be a good thing. But studies have shown that bike licensing isn’t the answer for creating safer streets. Not only are such policies difficult to administrate and enforce, they result in fewer people riding bikes, which makes cyclists less visible to drivers and negatively impacts public health.

Read more…