His name was Tyler, and it happened late last Saturday night (technically Sunday morning) in Chicago, on Logan Boulevard. Google it and you'll find it.
From what I gather, Tyler was in the bike lane, heading towards a yellow light. He wanted to beat the light, but also wanted to turn left. He veered in front of the path of the cars — which were, of course, also trying to beat the light, but going straight. He wasn't wearing a helmet. Died of a head injury.
I knew Tyler a little bit. I feel terrible for their family and Tyler's friends. But that's not what this post is about. What gets me about this is that Googling the incident brings up a bunch of blog entries where people are accusing the news outlets of shoddy reporting because there weren't enough questions raised about how the driver could have been at fault.
The bike community does a great disservice to everyone, drivers and bikers alike, when they pretend that bikers are never responsible for bike accidents. Again, my heart is with all those who knew this guy better than I did — especially his brother, whom I worked with for a couple years. (I can't imagine what must be going through his mind right now.) But if the news articles are even close to accurate, this incident was completely preventable by the cyclist. The bike evangelists can have their moral superiority complex, and the messenger hipsters can have their fake statistics about how helmets aren't a factor in most accidents, and helmets make drivers treat bikers more dangerously, and whatever other nonsense someone sees fit to write on the internet. But, assuming the description given by the witnesses isn't some kind of mass anti-cyclist conspiracy, the fact is that this guy was riding his bicycle in what is generally a very bike-aware city, made an illegal and extremely dangerous maneuver, and wasn't wearing a helmet, and now he is dead.
I was friends with him on Facebook. His profile on there has now become some sort of strange, internet-age tomb, frozen in time from when he last exchanged goofy messages with his friends. Goodbye, Tyler. Wish I could have known you better.
Wear your helmet. Wear your lights. Ride defensively. There is no excuse not to do any of these things. Drivers can kill you, but so can hubris. Stay safe.