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Louis Jacobson, 67, died after reportedly hitting pothole on bike in West Ridge

Louis Jacobson, right, with Recycling Plus co-owner Gary Zuckerman. Photo provided by Recycling Plus.

The death of recycling worker Louis Jacobson, 67, last month in the West Ridge neighborhood appears to be a rare case of a fatal Chicago bike crash that didn't involve another vehicle.

According to police, on Thursday, June 18, at about 8 a.m., Jacobson, who worked at Recycle Plus, was bicycling south on the 6400 block of North Western Avenue when he hit a pothole and was thrown from his bike into the street, hitting his head on the pavement, and was found laying unresponsive next to his bike. The victim was transported to St. Francis hospital where he was pronounced dead.

A security camera at adjacent Devon Bank showed that Jacobson had been riding on the sidewalk of the busy four-lane avenue when he entered the street because one of the bank's maintenance workers was on the sidewalk watering the parkway with a hose, according to Recycle Plus co-owner Gary Zuckerman. The worker knew Jacobson because the company picks up recycling for the bank, Zuckerman added. He said it's believed that Jacobson was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.

July 2019 Google Street View image of the southeast corner of Devon and Arthur avenues by the bank, showing a CTA bus pad sticking out above the road.
July 2019 Google Street View image of the southeast corner of Devon and Arthur avenues by the bank, showing a CTA bus pad sticking out above the road.
July 2019 Google Street View image of the southeast corner of Devon and Arthur avenues by the bank, showing a CTA bus pad sticking out above the road.

Zuckerman said the pothole was patched by a city crew within a few hours of the incident. A Google Street view image from July 2019 shows a concrete CTA bus pad with a lip sticking out above the road. The CTA and the Chicago Department of Transportation did not respond to Streetsblog's inquiry about whether a repair was made to this location last month.

According to Zuckerman, the bus pad lip was patched with asphalt hours after the crash. Photo: Courtney Cobbs
According to Zuckerman, the bus pad lip was patched with asphalt hours after the crash. Photo: Courtney Cobbs
According to Zuckerman, the bus pad lip was patched with asphalt hours after the crash. Photo: Courtney Cobbs

Jacobson's obituary and a video of the funeral can be viewed here. During the memorial service, Jacobson's brother said, "Louie was 6'6", 197 pounds, with shoulders as broad as a building... If there was one thing that Louie was always known for, that was him always ready to help someone else, help a friend, keep track of him. If the car breaks down, it's on the side of the road... he'll stop, he'll push the car over on the side. If somebody needs help painting, he'll help them with painting. He'll help them regardless of what the job is. If they come to him and ask for help, he's there."

Fatality Tracker: 2020 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths on surface streets

Pedestrian: 12
Bicyclist: 4

Note: Streetsblog Chicago’s traffic death numbers represent fatal crashes on Chicago surface streets, based on media reports and/or preliminary Chicago Police Department data released by the Chicago Department of Transportation.

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