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Bicyclist Crushed by Dump Truck Friday Night

By JoshMogerman in News on Aug 6, 2011 7:15PM

Ghost Bike [Salim Virji]
The nightmarish death of a 25-year old woman last night is a grim reminder of the dangers bicyclists face in Chicago. Chicago police describe the accident in which the woman fell off her bike and slipped under the rear axle of an idling dump truck as a “tragic accident.” The truck driver did not see the cyclist, who was crushed after being unable to get out from under the truck before the traffic signal at Wabash and Wacker turned green.

Despite 117 miles of bike lanes in Chicago carving out street real estate for cyclists, accidents are still commonplace with an average of 3500 vehicle-bike crashes and 18-27 deaths annually according to the Trib and Illinois Department of Transportation.

Last night’s death will certainly magnify calls for a speed up in converting more streets to a Kinzie-style protected bike lane. While that conversion has been controversial, initial results have been impressive with a 60 percent increase in riders at Kinzie and Milwaukee during the morning rush over last year. And as Chuck’s conversation with Chicago GRID’s Steven Vance showed, the new configuration on Kinzie is the sort thing necessary to bring along the increases in bikers that the City is striving for with its Bike2015 plan.

Putting the policy stuff aside, last night’s horrific event seems like a more basic reminder of why we need more protected bike lanes -- putting an end to these unnecessary tragedies. We will be saddened to to see yet another ghost bike downtown tomorrow.