Leonard Anderson, 70, Fatally Struck on Independence Boulevard, Where Protected Lanes Were Removed

Independence Boulevard near the crash site. Image: Google Street View
Independence Boulevard near the crash site. Image: Google Street View

A 70-year-old male bicyclist Leonard Anderson was struck on Independence Boulevard in West Garfield Park on Monday, October 2, and later died from his injuries, according to an account of the crash provided by Chicago Department of Transportation spokesman Mike Claffey, based on a police report.

At about 1:10 p.m. on the day of the crash, an 87-year-old driver was heading northbound when he struck the cyclist, “who was traveling the wrong way on Independence,” Claffey said. Northbound and southbound lanes on Independence are separated by a wide, grassy parkway, and there are two northbound travel lanes plus buffered bike lanes.

Police spokesman Officer Patrick McGinnis later added that Anderson was headed southbound, and the driver was not turning when the crash occurred. The vehicle sustained damage to the hood and front passenger-side (right) bumper.

Anderson, who lived  was transported to Mount Sinai Hospital, according to McGinnis. He was later transfered to RML Specialty Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on November 28 at 2:05 p.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office, which also stated that the victim lived on the 3700 block of West Congress, around the corner from the crash site.

Anderson was the fifth on-street bike crash fatality of 2017. The other four fatalities were Jezniah Smith, Louis Ray Smith, Johnel Washington, and Lisa Schalk.

After residents called for the removal of protected bike lanes on Independence, CDOT barricaded the lanes and then downgraded them to buffered lanes. Photo: John Greenfield
After residents called for the removal of protected bike lanes on Independence, CDOT barricaded the lanes and then downgraded them to buffered lanes. Photo: John Greenfield

In 2012 CDOT installed parking-protected bike lanes on Independence Boulevard, but after a backlash from residents who objected to the removal of a few parking spaces per block for sight line purposes, and wished to park curbside, the department downgraded the bikeways to buffered lanes. While biking against traffic is illegal, if the cyclist had been riding in a curbside bike lane, separated from moving traffic by a line of parked cars, it would have been virtually impossible for this collision to occur.

According to Claffey, four out of five of this year’s on-street bike fatalities occurred in High Crash Areas on the South on the West and Near West sides of town, as designated in the city’s Vision Zero Chicago plan, although none occurred on High Crash Corridors.

Update 12/14/17 6:30 PM: The post has been updated with information about the vehicle movements and the date of the cyclist’s death.

Update 12/15/17 10:45 AM: The post has been updated with the victim’s identity.

Fatality Tracker: 2017 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths
Pedestrian: 42
Bicyclist: 5

Note: Streetsblog Chicago’s traffic death numbers represent fatal crashes on Chicago streets. The pedestrian count above is based on Chicago Police Department data for January through October released by the Chicago Department of Transportation, plus media reports for November and December. In addition to the on-street bike fatalities, on June 24 a cyclist was riding on a CTA train platform when he fell on the tracks and was fatally struck.

  • shaun2

    Are we supposed to create
    infrastructure to protect users when they are doing something (eg riding backwards against traffic) that is illegal and dangerous?
    I don’t think so.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    Cities with very low traffic fatality rates have infrastructure and enforcement that prevent lethal driving speeds and protect vulnerable road users, so that if someone makes an error they don’t have to pay for it with their life. In this case, if the city had not removed the protected bike lanes, the crash almost certainly would not have happened.

  • Larry

    No, absolutely not. But, he WAS in a bike lane. A car should never, EVER be in a bike lane, for any reason. That simple rule saves lives. I stop and ask cab/Uber drivers what they’re doing in a bike lane and they just give me that open-mouthed stare. You’ll reply that he was going the wrong way, but it doesn’t address what the car was doing in a BIKE lane – wrong way or not. But yes, driving the wrong way is NEVER cool.

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