A collision in downtown Evanston this morning between a bicycle and a motorcycle resulted in head injury to the bicyclist, who was listed in critical condition at Evanston Hospital following surgery.

The collision occurred at about 9 a.m. on Church Street between Orrington and Chicago avenues.

Police said the motorcyclist was traveling eastbound on Church Street when the bicyclist, a 55-year-old Evanston woman, who was also traveling eastbound in the bike lane, crossed Church Street in the middle of the block into the path of the motorcycle.

The injured cyclist, who police said was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, was transported to the hospital by Fire Department paramedics.

The operator of the motorcycle, a 27-year-old Chicago man, was not injured, police said.

The EPD Traffic Bureau located a witness who observed the bicyclist cross Church Street and make contact with the motorcycle.

The 600 block of Church Street was closed to traffic for about three hours while Evanston police, assisted by the regional Major Crash Assistance Team, conducted their investigation.

The motorcyclist was not charged, police said.

Top: File photo of the mobile laboratory of the Major Crash Assistance Team that aided in the investigation of the accident.

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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  1. Do bike lanes promote a sense of false security?

    I wonder if the new bike lanes promote a sense of false security.

    I met a cyclist who had just moved here from Oak Park. He said down there, the bike paths were segregated from traffic and therefore were safe from things like this. The dangerous neighborhoods one rode through, however, was the primary risk. Here it is just the opposite. I'd like to hear from other cyclists (I'm not one).

    1. The bike lanes in downtown

      The bike lanes in downtown Evanston where this bicyclist was are in between the sidewalk and parked cars they're not side by side with traffic. Sounds to me the article says the bicyclist crossed the street in the middle of the block and probably just didnt see the motorcycle instead of crossing at the intersection.

      1. I always wondered….

        As a driver, I'm always aware when parking of looking in my mirror & over my shoulder for a biker so I don't door them.

        Isn't it actually more dangerous to segregate the bicyclists from traffic?  What happens when a 10 year old, who DOESN'T have the same sense of surrounding awareness, sitting on the passenger side, throws open his door?

        Also: If bicyclists are riding in the bike lane, and then have to get over & make a left turn, how does that work? 

        I never really understood the bike lane setup.  Do they have to use the bike lane?  I think if I was a bicyclist I'd probably still use the main road for the above 2 reasons.   I've also seen many, many bikes riding the wrong way in the bike lane.  There isn't really a whole lot of room to move over if someone is going to hit you head on, going the wrong way.

        1. In my riding experience

          In my riding experience the "protected" lanes are full of all kinds of hazards, particularly pedestrians milling about at street corners, other bicylists riding in the wrong direction entirely, persons crossing after having parked (often while looking down at a cell phone), and yes, people popping out of passenger-side doors.  I've never seen lanes like this anywhere, and at intersections such as Church and Sherman you're just asking for trouble where bikes heading eastbound (straight) and cars turning right (south) are set up to collide. Signage does basically nothing to prevent this.  I vastly prefer biking in the street downtown. Outside the lanes I can be seen, easily keep up with the flow of traffic, and see my surroundings.   I also much more often drive than bike.  The motorist side of me definitely does not like the "protected" lanes either. I see all kinds of not very good bikers moving in and out of these things.  When I was a kid we didn't ride our bikes on busy downtown streets for a reason.  I can't really believe these whole trains of parents and kids on bikes hitting up the farmer's market. We're not set up for that. 

      2. Bike Lanes on Church ?

        Unless I'm mistaken–and I ride that lane all the time—on Church from Sherman to Chicago Ave. are NOT between a car parking and sidewalk.  What you describe is on Davis.

  2. Speed, street design and death as the ‘cost of doing business’.

    I am a cyclist, pedestrian, and when I can't avoid it, also a car driver. Even if this cyclist  did cross in the middle of the block–in effect, change lanes–the consequence for her was death, the consequence for the motorcyclist, nothing. We read that the cyclist was wearing a helmet, but we read nothing about what the motorcyclist was doing, or being allowed to do.

    What's wrong with this picture?  Was the young male motorcyclist speeding? Or, Is the speed limit there too high? These deaths are unacceptable but they will continue to happen until we change our collective mindset about the desirability of speed and all the laws and street designs that encourage speed. This crash is yet another tragedy in which the most vulnerable street user is being blamed.

    1. Speeding and Street Design

      I agree with you Nancy…. Evanston's street speeds are much too high for our highly-populated urban environment.  Our streets need lower traffic speeds and they should be designed to slow drivers down, rather than encourage them to travel at the high rates of speed they currently enjoy.  I live in southwest Evanston and watch drivers pass through well above posted limits on Dempster, Main, Oakton, Asbury and Dodge.  Ask anyone who lives on Ridge if drivers obey the speed limit on that street – those residents have complained for years about this issue and their voices have been joined by vocal residents on Oakton and Dempster.  Very few drivers obey our traffic laws and when people try to do so, they are harrassed, tailgated and honked by other drivers.  I do think a public-awareness campaign would be a great start to help get people thinking about appropriate and safe behavior when they are behind the wheel of something that has the ability to kill.  I am aware that our police patrol as often as they are able to.  Perhaps our city could direct some of our tax dollars toward well-placed banners and fliers as well as rethink our street design.  I would encourage more bump-outs and the use of middle-street planters such as is being done in Skokie. 

      1. Protected bike lanes

        Perhaps reading the article and police report would be helpful. It appears that the accident was caused by the Lady on the Bike. I suppose that Nancy and  Che-li would blame the engineer of a train had this  accident occured by person on bike being hit by it. Che-li I believe the speed limit on Ridge is different then the speed limit on Main (depending on part) or Oakton since they both have school speed limits.

    2. Not at fault

      According to the articles, the motorcyclist did nothing wrong, was not cited (for speeding or anything else), and couldn't avoid the bicyclist who swerved unexpectedly into his path. There may be situations where car drivers or motorcyclists are at fault, but this is not one of them.

      1. My biggest concern is

        My biggest concern is eliminating all traffic fatalities –known as 'Vision Zero' in New York City  and elsewhere. Rather than assigning blame, can we ask ourselves what would it take to achieve it?

        A good place to start is speed limits, because for every 10 mph increase in vehicle speed, the likelihood of of pedestrian death increases faster than the percentage increase in vehicle speed: According to one source, the speeds and odds of death are as follows: 20 mph yields 5% odds of pedestrian death; 30 mph yields  45% odds; and 40 mph yields 85% odds.  Does our need for speed make death an acceptable 'cost of doing business'?

        1. Huh?

          You say on this post that rather than assigning blame, you want to curb these accidents.

          You insinuate in your original post it was the motorcyclists fault, questioning rate of speed, what doing, etc.?

          Very disingenuous on your part.

          it was an accident!  These things unfortunately happen.

          Please consider the family of the lost one, not your personal rant about traffic, speed and the motorcyclist.

    3. I don’t agree…

      If I was in the position of that motorcyclist, my fault or NOT (in this case), the fact that I (even accidently) was involved in someone's death would haunt me for life.

      The motorcyclist was PROBABLY going faster than the bicyclist if that is what you are getting at.  There were witnesses, but the motorcyclist was not cited for any violation so I doubt he was speeding.



  3. Bike crash

    I'm not familiar with that street and the bike lane but looked at it in google maps. Heading east, she would have first been on a street with the bike lane in the door zone (very dangerous), then a block with no bike lane at all, then coming through the light, she would be just a few car length from her job at the library, on her left, and a bike lane along the curb on the right. I would have signalled a left hand lane change and moved left immediately after coming through the light, and not headed right to the bike lane, leaving me with two lanes to cross. I wonder if the motorcyclist had just turned onto Church Str, and didn't see or ignored a lane change signal. We all just need to be more vigilant around more vulnerable users, whether pedestrians, cyclists, and even motorcyclists.

    My sympathies go out to her friends, coworkers and family.

    1. Causes

      I don't know more than I read and what some library people think occured so I won't speculate.

      But as to more general issues, trucks park in the bike lane so that bikers have to go around them [and go out in traffic again.  The trucks park there for extended time—much longer than it should take for the police to note and ticket them. Until the bike lanes were changed on Davis, it was a common matter for truck to park in the bike lane esp. from Benson to the Metra.  Drivers seem to know they can park where they want and get away with it.

      I avoid the bike lanes on Church and even more so Davis because the way drivers get into the lane and open car doors into the lane respectively.  Much safer to go to Grove or Clark even if not a direct route.  Probably bikers riding on downtown sidewalks [beside just not caring about the laws] is they feel much safter—even though they make pedestrians much less safe.

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