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.

My first time driving a hybrid vehicle from I-GO Car Sharing


On Saturday I needed to pick up a bunch of houseplants from a home improvement store and it seemed like it would be a hassle to carry them safely on my Fresh Air bicycle trailer. Also, after a lot of procrastinating, I recently got my Chicago Card Plus, which provides access to the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and I-GO Car Sharing, replaced after the old one cracked and stopped functioning months ago. So this seemed like a good opportunity to try out my new card by checking out a vehicle from I-GO, the nonprofit service operated by the Center for Neighborhood Technology.

When I logged onto the I-GO website, I noticed that there were a couple of locations near my home in Logan Square with standard Toyota Prius hybrid cars. I-GO also offers plug-in electric hybrid Priuses, which they say can get 100 mile-per-gallon for trips under forty miles. This results in up to two-thirds lower fuel costs and emissions than the standard Prius, I-GO says, but currently all of the plug-in hybrids are located downtown. The service also recently added several Mitsubishi i-MiEV and Nissan LEAF electric cars to their fleet.

Continue reading My first time driving a hybrid vehicle from I-GO Car Sharing

Grid Shots: Community gardens


The @ward1bike #Twitterbike at a garden. Photo by John Lankford. 

After some debating with John Lankford about this, I gave in to create the Grid Shots theme of “community gardens”. He sent me the first photo to feature (above). The bottom line, that won me over, was that a lot of people bike to their community gardens. I’ve even biked to a community garden myself, with Brandon Gobel and Jana Kinsman, to deliver beehivesContinue reading Grid Shots: Community gardens

Design and features of six Bloomingdale Trail access parks are formulated in a single night


Participants at Tuesday evening’s access parks charrette. Most photos by John. 

In 2015, when the Bloomingdale Trail and parks are complete, no one should be able to say that a feature or two isn’t supposed to be there. In a public planning process that continues to impress, with unprecedented, widespread community involvement, a new step was completed on Monday and Tuesday with the release of the framework plan and a trail access and park charrette, respectively. The residents of Chicago have designed this trail and its accompanying access parks by providing feedback probably totaling several million words. This is a process where votes are cast by showing up and participating; homeowners concerned about privacy met directly with members of the design team, and meeting participants stressing their concerns over people bicycling too fast were among the voters.

The design team, which consists of the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), Trust for Public Land (TPL), the Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail, and TPL and the Park District’s many contractors, held an access park charrette on Tuesday, May 15, 2012, at the Humboldt Park Fieldhouse. Continue reading Design and features of six Bloomingdale Trail access parks are formulated in a single night

Neighbors propose new plan for Logan Square traffic “free for all”


A rendering of a new design for Logan Square. It may be helpful to look at all six of the images in a new window while you read this article. Open the location on Bing Maps bird’s eye view

If you receive 35th Ward Alderman Colón’s newsletter, you would have seen in December a couple graphics and short description of a Logan Square “reimagination”, or rather, the Logan Square Bicentennial Improvements Project. The “square” of Logan Square is really circle at the confluence of Logan Boulevard, which ends here, Kedzie Avenue (which goes around the west side), and Milwaukee Avenue (which cuts the square).

Three Logan Square residents, Charlie Keel, Don Semple, and Ryan Westrom, have created a new plan for the Logan Square traffic circle, an unrivaled demonstration of multi-modal transportation harmony. I kid. The plan, which reduces the number of lanes, shortens crosswalk distances, and adds a mix of conventional and protected bike lanes, has received support from the Logan Square Preservation Society, Alderman Colón, and Active Transportation Alliance. And maybe even the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT).

Continue reading Neighbors propose new plan for Logan Square traffic “free for all”

Streets for Cycling concerns: What about Logan and Western?



You ask, I answer. Or, really, the Chicago Crash Browser (super beta draft version) and automobile collision data from the Illinois Department of Transportation answers. James Baum asked on The Chainlink:

From an engineering point of view I am very interested in how they plan on “fixing” the mess that is the Logan Blvd underpass. I feel that this area definitely fits under the “do the easy stuff first and the hard stuff last”  category on the hard side. The intersection is dangerous enough for motor vehicles and I’d like to see some crash statistics for autos there.

I agree that cycling through here is a problem; it seems that getting through here regardless of mode is a problem, though. The Moving Design group of design activists, of which I took part, created a large visual to raise awareness (“LOOK!”), using stencils, hair spray, and a fire extinguisher.  Here are all the pedestrian and “pedalcyclist” crashes. Notice how few pedestrian crashes there are within 250 feet of the center where Logan Boulevard and Western Avenue meet. That might be because few people actually walk here, avoiding it like the plague our streets are: Continue reading Streets for Cycling concerns: What about Logan and Western?