Friday, February 29, 2008

Alley-Cat Bicyclist Killed by SUV in Chicago: Blame Game Begins

To blame the victim for dying such a tragic death I think is an injustice. It's an injustice that our culture is so embedded in auto use and the convenience of autos that we're willing to let our friends and loved ones be killed.
*Longtime cyclist organizer Alex Wilson on the death of a participant in the illegal bicycle street race, the "Tour Da France" in Chicago.

It's called "alley-cat" city bicycle racing, hard-core bicyclists who participate in street races, unofficial and now, deadly for one rider, 29-year-old Matthew Manger-Lynch of Chicago.
Matthew Manger-Lynch, 29, of the 1400 block of West Lill Avenue in Chicago was near the front of the pack of about 40 riders, police said. The group was traveling southeast along Lincoln Avenue, when they attempted to cross Irving Park Road at about 9:15 a.m.

But the stoplight was red, and Manger-Lynch was killed when an SUV traveling east along Irving Park struck him. He was pronounced dead in Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center at 9:47 a.m. Police said they do not expect charges will be filed against the driver.
Manger-Lynch was participating in the "Tour Da Chicago," a well organized bicycle "street race" even though the organizers failed to seek permission.

A take-off of the Tour De France, the Chicago race also took place in stages, each stage scheduled at various times throughout the winter.
Chicago's race takes place in six stages, beginning with a preview race in January and ending with a rugged "Stairmaster" challenge -- a course that includes riding on several of the city's most treacherous staircases -- in March, according to participants.

Sunday's race, which was Stage 3, began at 8 a.m., and featured a course that wound through Chicago, starting in the West Loop, heading to the Rogers Park neighborhood, into the northwestern parts of the city and finishing in the West Loop. About 50 cyclists participated, by one rider's estimate.
The race is well organized but is also illegal, the competition includes competing against the traffic as the riders try to outpace each other, "blowing" through red lights, not obeying traffic laws.
"It's an event inherently designed to have people break rules and break laws," said Rob Sadowsky, executive director of the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, which advocates city bicycling and promotes bicycling safety. "It provides a competitive incentive, almost, for people to run red lights."
Ben Zorn in the Chicago Tribune:
Let those who have participated in, organized or even tacitly condoned such races denounce and renounce them in the strongest terms. They're no better than outlaw drag races -- grotesquely selfish events that endanger innocent people. Mayor Daley, our town's bicyclist in chief, needs to make this clear.
Alex Wilson, a longtime friend of the dead cyclist believes it's the drivers who are fault, even when the cyclists are competing in a contest which spurs them to break the traffic laws. Manger-Lynch who was riding in a group of at least 40 cyclists who went through a red light.
"Bicycles don't kill people, cars kill people. I believe laws should be written to protect the lives depending on your mode of transportation. If you get hit by a bicycle you probably won't even have to go to the hospital. If you get hit by an SUV there's a good chance you're going to be killed. The laws don't reflect the liability of the vehicle," Wilson said.
Mr. Wilson is incorrect, there are laws out there to protect cyclists. Mr. Manger-Lynch and the other alley-cat cyclists were competing in an illegal street race designed by the organizers to break traffic laws.

What is interesting is the the city of Chicago hasn't taken action against the organizers of the Tour Da Chicago.

As Forrest Gump said, "Stupid is, as stupid does."

In this case, one guy's dead, the driver and passengers in the SUV are most likely traumatized and the organizers are pointing fingers at everyone but themselves.


Image - Mini Alley Cat
Image - Tour Da Chicago
Source - Chicago Tribune - Bike Tragedy Could Have Been Worse
Source - Chicago Tribune - Bicyclist Killed by SUV
Source -
Chicago Tribune - Bike Fatality

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