CHICAGO — A 55-year-old cyclist is the seventh person killed in a crash this year and the third to die after being hit in a viaduct.
Amy Rynell, executive director at Active Transportation Alliance, told WGN News that vehicles striking cyclists is becoming an all too familiar occurrence.
“We are at a moment where our streets are unsafe for all users,” she said. “We have so many people trying to get around and all the ways they’re getting around are not safe.”
According to police, the 55-year-old male cyclist was traveling westbound in the 400 block of 26th St. Saturday when a driver of an SUV headed in the same direction hit the back of the bike.
Officials say the cyclist fell and was pinned underneath the vehicle.
The man was taken to Stroger Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Police say the driver was a 60-year-old woman, who was cited for failing to halt at the stop sign, not having insurance, and having an expired driver’s license.
Despite 26th Street having a painted bike lane, Rynell believes more needs to be done.
“Paint is not protection. It doesn’t save you from a speeding vehicle…that isn’t following the traffic rules. That painted bike lane fades as you get to the viaduct and then you have the shift from light to dark and dark to light.”
Other previous incidents include the death of cyclist Gerardo Marciales who was killed on DuSable Lake Shore Drive in February, the hit-and-run death of Nick Parlingayan in May in Old Irving Park and the death of 3-year-old Lilly Shambrook in Uptown.
“Chicago has about 4,000 miles of streets, about 9% of them have some type of bike paint and only 1% of them are protected for safety,” Rynell said.
While some changes have been made to bike lanes in the city, Rynell says her organization has been pushing for faster progress but admits it can get complicated.
“Some of our roadways the state manages, so the state has to say, “OK Chicago, make your roads safer and the state is really good at highways they’re not really good at city residential streets,” she said.
While there’s an infrastructure portion to the issue, Rynell says it’s about educating drivers as well.
“We’ve seen an epidemic of speeding and lives lost unnecessarily because of reckless driving,” she said. “So we need to do different things to slow cars down.”