We Must Protect ‘Vulnerable Roadway Users’ – Cyclists Are ‘Victims’

The measure in Wisconsin is intended to provide prosecutors with an option beyond the traffic tickets that have been issued in crashes that killed bicyclists in recent years.

Kyle Dieringer, for example, pleaded no contest in January and paid $400 in fines for failing to yield a three-foot safe passing distance in a crash that killed Jeff Littmann and severely injured Lauren Jensen. The local athletes were out on a training ride on Wisconsin Ave. in Nashotah on Oct. 1, 2010.

Citing cases like that, cycling advocates made the same push for a vulnerable user law at the federation’s annual Bike Summit in 2011.

“These laws are intended to protect vulnerable roadway users and to appropriately and fairly punish those who harm them through reckless or careless behavior,” according to the Bike Fed message.

— Tom Held

I do agree with Kass on this point: Like motorists and even pedestrians who use roads recklessly, people who ride bikes should also be ticketed. We don’t endorse ticketing cyclists and drivers for minor violations that put no one at risk. Let the police focus on more important matters. But if you’re putting people at risk, a ticket is warranted whether you’re biking, walking or driving.

On average in Chicago, 60 people are injured or killed every day in car crashes, of which about 13 are on foot or bike and 47 in cars. Bikes are rarely the cause of injury. If the police are willing to look the other way for reckless motor vehicle drivers, they aren’t likely to ticket people riding bikes.

— Ron Burke

But many cyclists don’t perceive running stop signs as being particularly dangerous when done by a cyclist. They see it as being more akin to a pedestrian not stopping at a stop sign. But cyclists do see speeding as being particularly dangerous. And motorists do not.

— Rick Bernardi, J.D.

Reply by Mr. Ray Joe Hall 12 hours ago
Stop signs are so lame. Especially when someone else has the right of way at one. Brakes too.

— ChainLink Forum

Dooring accidents occur when a vehicle door is suddenly opening in the path of an oncoming bicyclist. Under Illinois law, motorists are required to look for approaching bicyclists before exiting their vehicles. But, this requirement is often overlooked, forgotten or simply never learned in the first place.

Until quite recently, the Illinois Department of Transportation did not track incidents in which cyclists were doored. The reason? These accidents do not involve vehicles that are in motion.

“That’s just not appropriate,” Kim Nishimoto, who lost her son in a 2008 dooring accident, told the Chicago Tribune regarding IDOT’s failure to include dooring in its statistical reports. “It’s an insult,” she added.

— McNabola Law Group

Like Carty, few would be surprised by the number of bikers causing crashes by rolling through red lights or stop signs. But the fact that speeding is the leading cause, according to the police reports, has raised questions from many Bay Citizen readers, since most cyclists don’t actually travel faster than posted speed limits.

“What’s up with faulting cyclists for ‘riding too fast?’ How is that even possible?” wrote a Bay Citizen commenter who called himself John Brooking. “‘Too fast’ only makes sense if it’s either too fast for conditions, or while doing something dangerous. In the latter case, it’s the other action that’s the root problem. I don’t understand this criticism, and it makes me suspect it’s more anti-cyclist bias.”

— Zusha Elinson

Alleycat events are outlaw bicycle races, during which riders blow through red lights, ignore other traffic laws and confound motorists. After a rider’s death a few days ago, those who defend alleycats say it is car drivers who need to be more careful.

It resembles an official bike race. But it’s not. The “Tour da Chicago,” as these alleycats call it, takes to the streets– even in wintertime. It has become so popular with some cyclists the past six years there are even lengthy video diaries of the Chicago alleycats on the internet. The races take place on makeshift courses that are drawn up by hand shortly before the competitions. And it is a contest, on streets that are open to traffic and pedestrians, with racers speeding between unaware motorists. Without city permits, insurance or police to block off streets, one video shows, the alleycats blast through red lights and even dart into oncoming traffic.

“Racing through red lights for the sake of winning some relatively meaningless event, it’s a tragedy and it shouldn’t be allowed to continue,” said Mark Mattei, Cycle Smithy owner.

Last Sunday, Matt Manger-Lynch was killed racing through a red light. The 29-year-old chef and Chicago catering executive was in the lead during a 40-person alleycat race on the Northwest Side. As the group approached the three-way intersection of Irving Park, Damen and Lincoln, police say Manger-Lynch ran the red and was struck by an SUV.

Longtime cycling organizer Alex Wilson was Manger-Lynch’s friend.

“To blame the victim for dying such a tragic death I think is an injustice. And I think it’s an injustice that our culture is so embedded into auto use and the convenience of autos that we are willing to let our friends and loved ones be killed,” said Wilson, West Town Bikes.

— Chuck Goudie

Scott Harris

Published on Feb 19, 2013
The third installment of the CORN FED series. Indianapolis couriers and riders alike, smash through the city streets of Indianapolis. Blowing lights and bonking traffic, as per usual.