LOGAN SQUARE — Calls are mounting for town to make security enhancements to a notoriously harmful Logan Sq. intersection after a driver hit and killed 32-year-old Kevin Clark there whereas driving his bike final week.
Clark’s members of the family, elected officers and bike advocates are demanding town set up protected bike lanes and make different security fixes to the intersection of Logan Boulevard and Western Avenue. The intersection has an extended historical past of endangering cyclists, drivers and pedestrians alike.
Regardless of a transportation advocacy group flagging the intersection as harmful a couple of years in the past, town hasn’t taken any steps to make the issue intersection safer — and within the wake of Clark’s killing, Chicago’s biking neighborhood, officers and locals are fed up.
“If you happen to ask any bicycle owner in Chicago how they really feel about biking on Western Avenue in that space, they’re going to inform you that location completely terrifies them — even veteran cyclists,” mentioned Christina Whitehouse, founding father of the group Bike Lane Rebellion.
Whitehouse mentioned many individuals have referred to as on officers to make security enhancements to the intersection through the years, however these efforts have “fall[en] on deaf ears.” Clark’s killing comes 13 years after 22-year-old bicycle owner Tyler Fabeck was killed by a driver whereas driving his bike via the intersection.
“What number of cyclists have to be killed at that location for [the intersection] to be improved?” Whitehouse mentioned.
About 1:20 a.m. Might 26, Clark was driving his bicycle on Western Avenue at Logan Boulevard when the 20-year-old driver of a Hyundai Sonata hit him, police mentioned. He was taken to Illinois Masonic Hospital, the place he died from his accidents.
Clark’s household has obtained an outpouring of assist. He was a drummer identified for his function within the “College of Rock” film starring Jack Black. He grew up in suburban Highland Park however lived in Chicago for a few years and performed in varied bands.
“He was at all times happiest behind that drum package,” Clark’s cousin, Matthew Portman, beforehand mentioned.
Clark’s mom, Allison, mentioned she was together with her son the night time earlier than he died.
“Kevin was so heat and loving,” she mentioned. “He stayed at my home Tuesday night time and as he left he mentioned, ‘Mother, wait.’ And stopped me and hugged me huge and mentioned, ‘Don’t neglect I like you.’ He was at all times like that, at all times so loving, at all times checking in on me and ensuring I used to be OK.”
The intersection the place Clark was killed is a identified ache level for cyclists, pedestrians and drivers, partially as a result of it feeds into Kennedy Expressway on- and off-ramps. It was recognized by the group Energetic Transportation Alliance in 2018 as a “high-crash space.” As a part of that study, Energetic Transportation Alliance officers urged town to put in protected bike lanes and different security measures, however the metropolis didn’t act on that suggestion.
Mike Claffey, a spokesman for town’s Division of Transportation, didn’t reply a query about why town has not overhauled the intersection at Energetic Transportation Alliance’s urging. However Claffey mentioned town plans to conduct a “post-crash evaluation” of the intersection to find out what security enhancements are wanted.
Ald. Daniel La Spata (1st), who represents the world the place the intersection is, mentioned he’s lengthy needed to see security enhancements made there, as he rides via the intersection himself at the very least as soon as a day and has witnessed the hazards.
La Spata mentioned he’s flagged the intersection to Division of Transportation Commissioner Gia Biagi a couple of instances, and he’ll proceed do “all the pieces he can” to convey enhancements to the intersection.
“There’s a state of affairs, and it’s not an unlikely state of affairs, that the following information story is that the first Ward alderman was killed on the intersection. That’s nothing I need, that isn’t one thing my household desires. I don’t need that for anybody,” La Spata mentioned.
An enchancment venture is difficult by the actual fact there are a couple of totally different jurisdictions at play: Western Avenue is managed by Cook dinner County, Logan Boulevard is managed by town and the Kennedy Expressway is managed by the Illinois Division of Transportation, mentioned Jim Merrell, managing director of advocacy for Energetic Transportation Alliance.
However Merrell mentioned that’s no excuse for the holdup.
“We’re bored with listening to the justifications, and we simply need CDOT and different public companies to do their jobs,” he mentioned. “It’s not a simple venture, nevertheless it’s additionally one which’s properly inside our capacity to handle if we simply have the management and can to take motion.”
Because the battle for a safer intersection continues, Portman and different members of the family launched a web site, Kevin’s Coda, to maintain Clark’s legacy alive. A coda is the ultimate a part of a chunk of music — on this case, a nod to Clark’s love of music. By way of the web site, Portman’s members of the family are serving to elevate cash for a corporation that helps music training for native kids and elevating consciousness about bike security advocacy.
“We simply hope that one thing will get performed earlier than one other household has to undergo a tragedy like this,” Portman mentioned.
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