Fatality tracker: Second bicycling fatality in Chicago in 2012 occurs on Independence Day

2012 Chicago fatality stats*:

Pedestrian: 7 (6 have been from hit-and-run crashes)
Pedalcyclist: 2 (both are described in this post)
Transit: 5

Updated July 5 at 0:09: The first bicycling fatality occurred on June 25, 2012. Thank you to reader Jim Krok for pointing this out in the comments. That crash’s victim was 11-year-old Christopher Fonseca, of the southwest part of Logan Square. He died 5 days after the crash happened on June 20, 2012. Moved the Street View map west one block to show the location of the crash according to a commenter who claims to have witnessed the crash. Read the comment below.

I was really hoping that 2012 would see 0 bicycling fatalities. Unfortunately, today, July 4th, an 81-year-old man crashed and side-swiped an automobile today in the Edgebrook neighborhood. He died less than two hours later. The Chicago Tribune reports:

Robert Vanpelt of the 6300 block of North Hiawatha Avenue was pronounced dead at 12:05 p.m. at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. The accident [crash!] happened on the 5100 block of West Devon Avenue at 10:40 a.m. as the man was cycling westbound in the middle of the street, said Chicago Police News Affairs officer Veejay Zala.

The bicyclist hit a Toyota 4-Runner SUV and was critically injured as he side-swiped the SUV. No citations are expected in the incident, Zala said.

The Chicago Tribune’s report doesn’t make it clear if the automobile Vanpelt crashed into was moving or parked; the report seems to blame the person cycling for the collision. A look at the Street View shows that there is no street parking and the road has qualities found most often in suburban communities: many driveways, no bike lanes, and no sidewalks (the south side has a sidewalk, though). The wide travel lanes and lack of automobile parking here are probably connected to higher-than-speed limit speeds.

See Robert’s page on Every Bicyclist Counts.

Open Street View in larger map

* The information is only accurate as of this post’s publishing time and includes only people who died in the Chicago city limits. View previous Fatality Tracker posts.

13 thoughts on “Fatality tracker: Second bicycling fatality in Chicago in 2012 occurs on Independence Day”

  1. CBS says he was cycling ‘in the median’ when he ‘swerved’ into traffic and collided with a car.

    They also say that the CPD says they don’t anticipate issuing any citations in the matter. :-/

  2. Don’t ANY drivers watch what is going on and adjust speed accordingly? I see children, old people, dogs, etc. in the street often; I go slowly and give them a wide berth. I don’t want to hurt anyone when I am driving, even if I would not technically be at fault.

  3. Unfortunately, this looks to not be the first bicycle related fatality this year…

    June 25, 2012: Northwest Side boy, 11, fatally struck while riding bike

    “An 11-year-old boy died Monday, five days after he was hit by a car
    while riding his bicycle a block away from his Northwest Side home. Christopher Fonseca, of the 1900 block of North Lawndale Avenue, was
    riding his bicycle when a vehicle struck him in the 1900 block of North
    Ridgeway Avenue, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.”

    1. Thank you for sending this in. I didn’t see it. This might be because the boy died 5 days later, so the article didn’t appear where I pay most attention, in the “breaking news” area.
      I’m going to update the article.

  4. I witnessed this crash and I am so sad for the man and his family. It was absolutely horrible! The accident actually happened slightly further west than on the map above. It was just west of the intersection with Le Mai and was approximately in front of the library sign/snow route sign on the street view above. I was walking with my family on the opposite side of the street on Hiawatha. I didn’t see the entire imact, but I heard the screech and bang (it was very loud) and I saw the man as he was thrown into the air. The car was travelling in the right lane and the accident happend on the left (drivers side of the car.) I have already spoken to the police, and they have my name and number.

  5. I’ve ridden this area and I’m familiar with it. Non rush hour traffic often moves faster than the speed limit, sometimes significantly faster. I don’t know if that was a factor in this crash. From the witness description, I wonder if the cyclist might have just turned left from Le Mai onto Devon.

    To the witness – Thank you for giving a statement to the police, and for sharing information here.

    My sympathies to the family and friends of the cyclist.

  6. I have ridden through near there many a time, riding the Sauganash trail. It’s east of there, but the road makeup is very much the same. The median is broken up with turning places, and with the hills & the speed of the traffic through there, it’s no fun at all. The road was constructed with little or no care for pedestrians & cyclists. The Sauganash trail basically leaves you in the lurch probably similar to over by Le Mai. It drops you right at a grassy median, and you’re forced to ride the sidewalk many blocks to even find a place to cross. You’re lucky if it’s a light. Mostly, it’s a split in the median for a cross street, and that’s dodgy for cars, much less an elderly cyclist.

  7. I rode to Edgebrook on July 4, a couple of hours and three blocks from this crash site. Majority of Devon is not bicycle friendly. This particular stretch in Edgebrook near Caldwell Woods on Devon and Caldwell typically has cars traveling 10-15mph above the speed limit of 30/35. I am a confident cyclist but never include Devon or Caldwell in my route when heading northwest. The far northwest part of the city has sparse cycling infrastructure and roads, by design or not, encourage higher than speed limit driving. Very sad to read the outcome of the crash.

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