Skokie cyclist struck by car, killed

By Deanese Williams-Harris
November 10, 2012

Source: Chicago Tribune

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No charges for 30-year-old driver, police say

Lawrence McKenney said Friday he figured something was wrong when his 68-year-old brother was several hours late in returning from his job at Northeastern Illinois University the night before.

“When I got a call from the hospital, my stomach dropped. I knew it was my brother,” said McKenney, 73.

Officials at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston told McKenney that his brother had been hit by a car early Thursday evening as he rode his bicycle near Main Street and Skokie Boulevard in Skokie. Robert McKenney, 68, was thrown from the bicycle and crushed his skull, his brother said.

McKenney was pronounced dead at 1 a.m. Friday at St. Francis, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Robert McKenney regularly biked the four miles from his Skokie home to NEIU, where he worked in the purchasing department. “If the weather was nice, he rode his bike,” his brother said.

Robert McKenney, who lived with his brother, was scheduled to work a half day at the university Thursday and was expected home about 3 p.m., Lawrence McKenney said.

The bicyclist was riding south on Skokie near Main when he was hit by a motorist, his brother said. He flipped over and struck his head.

He was a veteran who served in Korea, his brother said. “He was a cheerful guy, very religious and never missed a Mass,” his brother said. “The pope should have his record.”

Police said Robert McKenney was trying to cross the street when he was struck. The 30-year-old driver of the car tried to avoid McKenney and crashed into a pole, police said.

The investigation is ongoing, but the driver had not been charged, police said.

dawilliams@tribune.com


TakeAways

On the ChainLink Forum the thread regarding this accident had this additional information to offer:

Reply by S.Presley 9 hours ago

Northside Mass stopped over there (skokie Blvd& main) last night…talked with some some people working in 7-11 & dunk’n d’s as well as a local man that filled in the blanks about what happened. © S. Presley

Reply by S.Presley 9 hours ago

That’s what we heard as well…that he was crossing just south of the intersection coming from the 7-11 parking lot. He was (by witness accounts) heading west across the 4 lanes and the driver,that struck him, was traveling south. © S. Presley

Reply by Will V. 1 hour ago
I realize there are a lot of unknowns here, but I wonder how fast the driver was going. IMO, one of the biggest reasons many streets are unsafe- especially 4 lane streets like this (or Ashland Ave, for example) is the flagrant nature with which almost all drivers violate the speed limits on these roads. A limit of 30 mph on Ashland, for example, can only be achieved during rush hour, bumper to bumper traffic. When traffic is light, Ashland is usually a 40-50 mph zone. Almost no one talks about this.

I was hoping that none of this kind of talk spoiled the somber mood of this thread. But as usual the cyclist as victim narrative is as predictable in a ChainLink Forum discussion as the Donald Trump Birther argument is when a Tea Party Republican is discussing something that POTUS Barack Obama has done. The Donald is annoying but not nearly so much as Orly Taitz. She almost makes me want to puke, but I digress.

Switching The Subject Does Not Work

The speed of the driver is not the leading causal factor in this drama, if we are to rightly interpret the actions of the police. They did not ticket the driver, and that speaks volumes.

What this cyclist was doing is done on a daily basis by thousands of pedestrians and cyclists within the city limits of Chicago and beyond. Crossing in mid-block is problematical because when motorists or even cyclists are not expecting you on the roadway at any given point it delays their reaction time. The Skokie Police Department had a newsletter article which addressed the issue of being mindful of crossing at the corners.

The day we can simply acknowledge that a cyclist may have done wrong and paid for it with their lives is the day we will have reached “adult” status with respect to cycling.

Observing Bad North Sider Behavior

I was parked across the street today from the Lincoln Park REI while Connie bought us a couple of Giro Reverb helmets. I was parked along the fence on the far side of the street and sat watching the traffic pass. Here are some things I noted:

  • Cars were actually passing other cars in the single lane heading north by using the bicycle lane altogether. At least two of these knuckleheads simply pulled into the bicycle lane and proceeded from the northeast corner of the REI building north to the light. Really, really stupid! What in the world is the matter with folks on the northside of the city? They have all the money and the education and judging by their driving habits make southsiders look like Rhodes Scholars. (Are you listening Gabe?)
  • At least one motorcyclist decided to do the same thing. He came chugging along on his 500cc Honda a big and clueless as a Tea Party Republican right down the center of the bicycle lane, heading for the same light to the north of REI.
  • A female cyclist came whizzing by and without bothering to signal a single whit exited the bike lane and moved left (through the corner intersection on the north side of the building) and proceeded to ride alongside a CTA bus. She rode to the stop light at the intersection to the north using the middle of the road stripe as her left boundary and the bus as her right boundary.
  • After we left REI and headed over to Native Foods Cafe I encountered a fellow riding southeast on Milwaukee devoid of any helmet whatsoever and riding directly at me in my northwest bound lane. He was evidently too cool to use the bike lane to proceed past the stalled auto traffic. I am guessing that his excuse was that he wanted to avoid getting “doored”. Just before colliding with me he decided to ride the dividing line to my left and continued back on the wrong side of the line as before.

Now I really don’t have to tell you that I am more than sick and tired of the whining of cyclists on the ChainLink and the dumbass drivers on the northside where everyone assumes that if you are from either the south or west sides of the city you are a denizen of a “sh*thole”. And the fine folks of the ChainLink Forum take umbrage if you call out guys like Gabe. Too bad.

No wonder there are as many deaths in the city limits of Chicago if today’s demonstrations of riding and driving skills are any evidence. Please, ChainLinkers, stop the whining! Grow up! And for goodness sakes, learn to call out back behavior on both bicycles and behind the while without resorting to the kind of bias towards cyclists that is seemingly demonstrated by Will V.