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Earlier this week, 32-year-old Kevin Clark, most notably known for playing the drummer in the 2003 Jack Black movie “School of Rock,” was killed by a driver as he rode his bike in Chicago. As noted by Streetblog, Clark was struck at a particular intersection that has seen many bike, pedestrian, and motorist crashes, and at least one other cycling fatality.’’
According to the Chicago Police Department, Clark was bicycling west on Logan. At Western Avenue at about 1:20 a.m. when the southbound driver of a silver Hyundai Sonata sedan struck him. The cyclist “sustained trauma throughout the body” and was taken to Illinois Masonic Hospital. Clark was pronounced dead at the hospital at 2:04 a.m. The driver, a 20-year-old woman, was uninjured, and was issued citations, though the department did not specify on the specific violations.
Moreover, the CPD confirmed reports that the driver and another witness said Clark rode through a red light before the driver struck him. As Streetsblog speculated, there’s a possibility Clark was that he was trying to execute an “Idaho stop,” treating a stoplight like a stop sign, which is legal in several states, and failed to notice the oncoming driver or misjudged her speed.
In California, the state Assembly recently passed AB 122, which would make it legal for bicycle riders to treat stop signs as yield signs. When approaching a stop sign, a cyclist would be required to yield the right of way to any vehicle already in the intersection, but not have to come to a complete stop if no other traffic were present. Stop signs were invented to make sure car drivers don’t pass carelessly through intersections, but the same rules were applied to bikes even though they pose much less risk to themselves and others. Plus, it takes longer for a person on a bike to clear an intersection if they come to a complete stop.
CalBike, the bill’s sponsor, reported that none of the states who have implemented the “safety stop” law – these being Idaho, Delaware, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Arkansas, Utah, and North Dakota – have reported any safety problems with the new rule, and that “a recent study in Delaware found that collisions involving bicycles at intersections decreased by 23% since the safety stop became legal.” The next stop for AB 122 is the California Senate, where it will most likely be assigned to the Transportation Committee.
Per Streetsblog reporting, Logan Boulevard is an important bike route between the Chicago neighborhoods of Logan Square, Lakeview and Lincoln Park, and there are bike lanes on the short stretch of the Boulevard that runs southwest-northeast between Western and Diversey Boulevard. However, the Logan/Western intersection is a dangerous junction for people biking and walking, since it’s the complicated, skewed nexus of two multilane streets, plus Kennedy Expressway access ramps, and sight lines are obscured by the the expressway and and Metra elevated Union Pacific-Northwest Line tracks.
In Nov. 2018, the Active Transportation Alliance, in partnership with local organizations, released the results of a report they did in the area. The results showed that this stretch of Logan is a high-crash area for pedestrians, bike riders, and drivers alike. Between 2011 and 2016, the study area saw 48 pedestrian crashes, 70 bike crashes, and 1,707 motor vehicle crashes.
And California’s bicycle accident statistics are no different. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2018 California was the second state with the most pedalcyclist deaths in the country. In 2017, the city of Los Angeles experienced a total of 1,918 bicycle accidents that resulted in 17 fatalities, according to the California Highway Patrol’s Annual Report.