Chicago Cyclist Taken Too Soon and Unnecessarily
Bobby Cann, from all accounts, was a well-liked 26-year-old man. He moved to Chicago a couple of years ago from New Hampshire and, while I never had the opportunity to meet him personally, some things are clear about him: 1. He loved the city of Chicago; and 2. He loved to ride his bicycle.
Bobby Cann is with us no more. He was on his bicycle headed down Clybourn Avenue in Old Town on Wednesday, May 29th, 2013. He was wearing a helmet. He was struck and killed by a car. He leaves behind devastated family members and friends.
Frequent Bike Routes Should Have Protected Bike Lanes
Clybourn is well-known as a “crosstown bike route.” Many people in the “biking safety world,” including me, think Clybourn should certainly be one of the city’s streets that should have protected bike lanes. It does not.
Interestingly, the stretch of Clybourn that Bobby Cann was riding his bike down did not have protected bike lanes for a reason. While the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) has proposed building protected bike lanes on Clybourn, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) said, essentially, “not now, not yet, maybe not ever.” Now that’s my quote, but I think it’s accurate.
IDOT needs more “statistics” to make a Decision.
IDOT has established a ban on bike lanes on roads that fall under its jurisdiction until mid-2014, at the earliest. The road on which Bobby Cann was killed is under IDOT’s jurisdiction. IDOT would like to see three years of data before approving bike lanes on streets such as Clybourn.
Clearly IDOT wants to see ample statistical evidence before implementing a protected bike lane program. However, Chicago is not the first city ever to implement protected bike lanes. There’s data from New York City and other large cities all over the world. The data is clear: Where there are protected bike lanes, the injury and crash rates of street users (walkers, bikers and drivers) is reduced.
The Decision should be clear. Prevent more accidents like this one.
I find it sad that it sometimes takes a serious injury or death to “light a fire” under a government agency like IDOT. However, I hope that IDOT reconsiders its three-year moratorium, under the circumstances. I think Bobby Cann would have wanted it that way.