Cyclist’s West Loop traffic death sparks calls for more safeguards

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A bicyclist was hit by a truck Thursday morning near Madison and Halsted. | Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times

A woman biking in the West Loop was hit and killed Thursday morning when a dump truck made a right turn in front of her — a type of crash that advocates for greater safety regulations say happens with “alarming frequency.”

About 7:10 a.m., the 39-year-old bicyclist and the dump truck both were heading north on Halsted when the truck turned right at Madison and struck her, according to Chicago police.

The woman died at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office identified her as Angela Park.

The driver was issued one citation for striking a pedestrian in the roadway, police said.

A bike helmet and a pair of sunglasses with one lens popped out could be seen lying in the street underneath a Lakeshore Recycling Systems truck Thursday morning. A representative for the company did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

The collision was a scenario known to bicyclists as the “right hook” that they say plays out all too often on Chicago streets.

“It seems to be the kind of crash that’s happening with alarming frequency where you have a bicyclist riding where they are supposed to be, and then you have a truck turning right,” said Brendan Kevenides, a Chicago personal injury lawyer who specializes in cases involving bicyclists.

A bicyclist was hit by a truck Thursday morning near Madison and Halsted. | Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times

A bicyclist was hit by a truck Thursday morning near Madison and Halsted. | Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times

Last year, the City Council passed an ordinance requiring city-contracted trucks to have side guards, which are installed along the side of the truck, between the front and rear wheels, to create a physical barrier preventing people from being pulled under the wheels.

“You’d simply be bumped into the guard instead of run over,” Kevenides said.

But Chicago’s ordinance — similar to others in Boston and San Francisco — only applies to large vehicles working on city contracts worth $2 million or more.

The truck in Thursday’s crash, which did not have side guards, was working on a private construction project, according to a Chicago Transportation Department spokesman.

Side guards can help prevent someone from being swept under the rear wheels of a truck. | U.S. Department of Transportation photo

Side guards can help prevent someone from being swept under the rear wheels of a truck. | U.S. Department of Transportation photo

The ordinance, which also requires trucks to have convex and crossover mirrors, only went into effect last month, and it’s being phased in over the next four years.

“This needs to happen a whole lot faster,” Kevenides said.

More “aggressive” side guard policies in New York City and London apply to all dump trucks that work in their cities.

“It needs to happen here,” Active Transportation Alliance spokesman Kevin Whitehead said. “You also have to involve the state.”

Kevenides and Whitehead commended the city for adding more protected bike lanes in recent years as part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “Vision Zero” campaign to reduce traffic deaths. But they say more needs to be done to educate drivers to keep an eye out for bicyclists.

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