Cyclist Killed on Stony Island, Where Aldermen Have Blocked Protected Lanes
The driver who opened their door in cyclist Luster Jackson's path was not cited.
Luster Jackson, 58, was struck and killed on his bike Saturday, July 28, in South Shore when a driver opened a car door on him, forcing him to swerve into the path of another motorist.
According to a Chicago Sun-Times report, at 6:48 p.m. Jackson was biking north on the 7200 block of South Stony Island when the first driver opened their door in his way. As the cyclist made a sharp move to the left to avoid the door, the second motorist, also traveling northbound, struck him.
Jackson, who lived in the Jackson Park Highlands neighborhood was transported to the University of Chicago Hospitals, where he was pronounced dead, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. His death was ruled an accident.
According to Officer Ronald Westbrooks from Police News Affairs, the driver who struck Jackson was cited, but Westbrooks said he didn’t have information on what the citation was. The driver has a court date on August 31.
Although opening a car door on a bicyclist is an offense that carries a $1,000 fine in Chicago, the motorist who did so was not cited, according to Westbrooks.
The Chicago Department of Transportation has proposed converting a lane or two of eight-lane Stony Island between 67th and 79th into protected bike lanes, which would virtually eliminate the possibility of cyclists getting doored. This stretch of Stony Island lies mostly within the 5th and 8th Wards. The exact location of the crash was on the short segment of the avenue within the 7th Ward.
Aldermen generally have the final say on whether bike infrastructure gets installed in their districts. While South Side cycling advocates have told me that 7th Ward alderman Greg Mitchell is generally pro-bike, 5th Ward alderman Leslie Hairston and 8th Ward Alderman Michelle Harris have previously voiced opposition to the protected lanes.
According to South Shore resident Elihu Blanks, Harris said to him at a 2016 ward meeting, ‘I don’t like that project—we don’t bike on this side of town.'” Hairston told me she believed that the “road diet” would cause traffic jams, and that Stony Island is too dangerous for bike lanes. But as this latest tragedy shows, people are biking on the avenue because it’s one of the few direct north-south routes in the area, and it’s too dangerous not to have bike lanes.
Update 8/1/18, 8 PM: This post has been updated to reflect the fact that the recent fatality took place in the 7th Ward, and that both 5th Ward alderman Leslie Hairston and 8th Ward alderman Michelle Harris have opposed protected bike lanes on this stretch of Stoney Island.
Fatality Tracker: 2018 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths
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-April 2018 released by the Chicago Department of Transportation, plus media reports for May, June, and July.