I am sick of the of police representatives making excuses for drivers who crush cyclists.
Yesterday a 37-year-old woman was traveling down Milwaukee Ave., in a bike lane to the right of a dump truck. The dump truck fatally right-hooked her. Once again, the cycling community mourns for a tragic death and for the loved ones of the victim.
Police spokesperson Sally Bown commented that the truck driver was "legally making a right turn" and "did not see the bike on the right side". The old "blind spot" excuse lives on. The old implication that killing somebody because your vehicle has a blind spot is somehow just one of those unfortunate things that happen....
Drivers have a duty to keep a proper outlook when they drive. They are not excused from this because they are driving some poorly-designed vehicle with a blind spot. Especially when there are many ways, including better mirrors, sensors, and camera systems, to eliminate such blind spots. This is 2019, not 1919. It is negligent on its face to drive a huge truck on crowded residential streets with blind spots along its sides. No such vehicles should be allowed on the road, period.
So no, Sally Bown. That dump truck driver wasn't legally making a right turn. He was a lazy sod who, even though bicycles are all over on Milwaukee Avenue, didn't bother to make sure he was clear before he turned. And it is of no relevance that he didn't see the bicyclist on the right side -- it was his responsibility to make sure that he could before he made that turn. That driver acted completely recklessly and should be charged appropriately. No doubt the police will give him a minor ticket or two, if even that.
There is a duty at all times to be aware of such situations. If your truck renders you blind, then find another job or a better truck. Those trucks with the stupid diagrams on the back showing that they might run you over if you're to their right should be banned from city streets. Telling someone you're going to kill them before you kill them doesn't make it legal.
I also want to add Lisa Kuivinen in particular because the street layout is similar to the one further up Milwaukee.
Streetsblog Chicago on Twitter, "The cyclist killed by a turning truck driver yesterday morning at Milwaukee/Kilbourn in the Irving Park community has been identified at Carla Aiello, 37, or Norwood Park."
Interesting detail there that the truck was stopped when the light was red, and turned right when it turned green. And there were witness statements backing up the driver's statement that the cyclist was in his blind spot. But no details about where she was at during the red light phase.
Block Club Chicago, "Years ago, Northwest Siders rejected a plan to install protected bike lanes due to parking concerns. Now, a woman is dead and bicyclists are furious."
Wow, reading that is infuriating and demoralizing.
In 2014, the city presented clear analysis of an option that would make the street safer for cycling. Residents rejected it because it would require removing 20% of parking spots, and harshly criticized the alderman for proposing changes. The alderman lost his re-election bid and is no longer in office.
So, how does this change moving forward? The city is aware of the problem, presented solutions with the support of a local alderman, and residents rejected it. If a design requires federal funding or approval to be built, it has to run through a public process and win public support, otherwise it won't be approved or funded. Demanding more action from the city doesn't solve that.
So are we really just stuck with deadly roadway designs until we can convince a few privileged people who want a bunch of empty space to park their privately owned vehicles on public property that they need to consider the safety of others?
A few weeks ago I got into an argument on Twitter with a cycling advocate who writes for Streetsblog. She felt a number of us were being too hard on the alderman and the constituents. I also got into an argument with several CLers about it. Sophia King wants to do away with the Drexel bike lane for the same reason - convenience of parking. How many cyclists need to die for everyone to wake up? Driving is a privilege. There are alternatives that don't involve getting rid of bike lanes. Paint is not protection so let's do it right and make protected bikes lanes.
All large commercial vehicles should be required to have the wheel guards so people don't get dragged under the vehicles. In addition, commercial vehicle drivers need to be better trained - require them to ride bikes and see how that feels as part of their training - other countries do this, why don't we?
Back to the NIMBY arguments - I stand by what I said weeks ago. We shouldn't back down and accept convenient parking as an answer and yes, we need the help of the entire bike community to make that happen. Not everyone that uses the bike lanes are residents - many are from other Chicago neighborhoods. They should also have a voice. Chicago is a city, not a series of fiefdoms. And the mayor needs to acknowledge this tragedy and she needs to DO BETTER. You can talk the talk but plans need to be implemented.
this is exactly why aldermanic prerogative needs to be curtailed, if not eliminated entirely, and the city needs to be the final arbiter for infrastructure related issues. street usage (vehicular lanes, bike lanes, and sidewalks) is not restricted to the residents of any one ward, nor are those residents restricted to the confines of their ward. the city needs to be consistent in the construction and maintenance of infrastructure for the safe use and enjoyment by everyone, residents and visitors alike.
Yes, we need to push for good infrastructure and a solid network of appropriate bike routes citywide. This piecemeal approach is NOT working.
While current protected lane designs in Chicago aren't going to remove all of the danger a right-hook situation can present, I do think protected lanes at least force drivers to be more aware that cyclists could be approaching.
Also, getting sick of the idea that a "blind spot" is just some sort of unavoidable danger we all need to deal with. In this day and age, any sort of blind spot is unacceptable, and is a clear design defect. Can people do things to avoid the dangers a claimed "blind spot" presents, sure, but it's time to stop giving truck owners and operators a pass when these sort of accidents happen. It's victim blaming, pure and simple.
The driver was given a citation per Mary Wisniewski. https://www.chicagotribune.com/business/transportation/ct-biz-truck...
The blind spot argument is meaningless when there is a bike lane. The existence of the lane tells drivers, "Hey, keep your eyes open, there are cyclists here." It is especially galling when somebody does all the right things, she was riding in a bike lane, and is struck by a truck.
Of interest, and this is from the Chicago Tribune as written by Mary Wisneiewski from a witness, Eric Kliethermes, right or wrong: "Kliethermes is himself a bike rider, and said he does not see how the truck driver could have seen Aiello. He said the truck was not going very fast."
I completely agree David that they ought to be looking, and whether something [in addition to their training and license exam] reminds them to keep their eyes open, if someone is in a blind spot, they simply can't see us. Unfortunately for all of us, such is the nature of the blind spot with many street configurations and likewise vehicle configurations nation-wide and, especially with another CDOT bike lane such as this, yet again.
We've zeroed in on one of several issues. 15 million trucks in the US haven't been re-designed to eliminate the blind spots yet. This isn't the first time someone in Chicago in a truck driver's blind spot has died. So we have a clear and present danger that invokes this policy question(among others): Do we continue to have CDOT paint bike lanes and invite people (who will then under-estimate the blind spot risk) to used those painted bike lanes before the trucks are redesigned or are banned from the street?