Bicycle Diaries: Biker killed by truck

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Biker killed by truck

Liza Whitacre
1986 - 2009

Jeremy Gorner reported yesterday on Chicago's Breaking News Center,
A 23-year-old woman died this afternoon after she fell from her bicycle, landed underneath a truck and was run over by the vehicle outside Hamlin Park on Chicago's North Side, police said. The victim, Liza Whitacre, was riding south on Damen Avenue with another cyclist, a 24-year-old woman, when they came across the truck and a CTA bus about 12:30 p.m. The 24-year-old, Whitacre's roommate, was able to travel "between" the two vehicles as Whitacre followed, Chicago police said.

But the victim slipped and fell underneath the truck.

"The truck driver was apparently unaware that the woman had fallen underneath," said Officer John Mirabelli, a police spokesman.

The truck then rode over Whitacre, 23, of the 4900 block of North Winthrop Avenue, and she was pronounced dead at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, officials said.

The operator of the CTA No. 50 Damen Avenue bus was questioned by police as a potential witness to the crash since the bus was in the "vicinity," said Chicago Transit Authority spokeswoman Wanda Taylor.

She did not know if the operator witnessed the crash, but said no CTA buses were involved in it.

Buses traveling along the Damen route were temporarily rerouted around the accident site, Taylor said.

No citations have been issued in the crash, Mirabelli said early this evening.

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Blogger Carlos said...

Much as I grieve for the ghost bicycles I see and read about in New York City (where I live) and other places in the world, I cannot help but notice that in this case the tragedy might have been avoided if the cyclist had used a little more prudence. Idealism aside, the roads we ride on were by and large designed for internal-combustion engine vehicles, and while we are right to assert our right to share the streets, we must also remember that we have a responsibility to keep others and ourselves safe. We bicyclists sometimes complain about pressure to travel in the same direction as cars, for instance, and some would assert their "right" to travel against the flow of traffic. But who, then, is at fault if one of those contraflow cyclists collides with a pedestrian who, seeing no vehicle or bicycle traveling down the posted direction of the street, steps off the curb and directly into the path of an oncoming bicycle. As often as not, it is the cyclist who bears the brunt of the injury (I bumped a restaurant deliveryman off his bicycle a few years ago in this manner, and though my shoulder was sore for a few days after the incident, his forehead bore a nasty gash where it made contact with the curb. The collision was entirely unintentional, but it happened).

22/10/09 17:18  
Blogger 2whls3spds said...

This is a poster child for why properly designed and separate cycling facilities are a good idea. Vehicular cycling has it's place but it is not an end all solution.

Condolences to the family and friends of Liza Whitacre.


23/10/09 04:43  
Blogger Da' Square Wheelman, said...

The mention of vehicular cycling reminds me of the recent Slate article, Stop Means Stop - How do we get bikers to obey traffic laws? It pretty much sums up the differences between that and facilitator cycling which advocates for the laws and the environment to recognize the innate differences between bikes and cars. That means special facilities like bike lanes, bike paths (elevated trails separate from the road), and even Copenhagen-style traffic lights for bikes.

Despite this horrific accident, I'm still on the fence about which I support...

23/10/09 16:17  
Blogger Sky said...

I have a 23 year old daughter and my heart goes out to the family. Such a tragedy.

25/10/09 19:52  

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