The death of a bicyclist in Chicago brought back fond memories for movie fans who knew him as a child actor while devastating those who loved him as a grown adult and musician.
It also brought another common Chicago issue directly back into the spotlight: What can the city’s cyclists do to protect themselves?
From ‘Rock’ star to statistic
As a 12-year-old, Kevin Clark entertained movie fans as drummer Freddy “Spazzy McGee” Jones in “School of Rock.” Clark never pursued acting, but he did form bands, write songs and teach children. Last month, at age 32, Clark was riding his bike when he was struck and killed at a dangerous intersection in the 2600 block of North Western Avenue.
The musician’s death stunned and saddened family and friends. His mother, Allison Clark, recalled how young Kevin started his musical career by banging on pots and pans in the basement of their Highland Park home and was still “just a 32-year-old kid.”
Jack Black, the 2003 movie’s star, wrote on Instagram: “Kevin is gone. Way too soon. Beautiful soul. So many great memories. Heartbroken. Sending love to his family and the whole School of Rock community.”
The death of Clark is part of a disturbing trend of fatal bicycle accidents in Chicago. The city experienced nine on-street cycling fatalities last year, which is more than any other year in the past decade.
Protecting yourself before an accident
City officials offer these tips for a safe bicycle trip:
Make use of the city’s bike map to find a safe route for your comfort level. Chicago offers shared traffic lanes, car-free paths, and suggestions for avoiding traffic congestion.
Give your bike regular checkups.
Before each trip, check the tire tread, tire pressure, brakes, crank arms, pedals, bike chain, and more to ensure your bicycle is safe to ride.
Always wear a helmet.
Purchase one that fits properly and provides maximum protection. Good helmets can cost as little as $30, and wearing a helmet significantly reduces your risk of a head injury if you’re involved in a crash.
Obey all traffic signals.
You are subject to the same laws as motor vehicles. That means you must obey road signs, traffic control signals, and all the other rules of the road.
Ride with traffic.
Oncoming motorists should be looking for you, and riding in the same direction as traffic makes you visible to turning vehicles. It also allows traffic to gradually overtake and pass you. Bike lanes can also be very narrow, and if two cyclists are going in opposite directions, it could result in a serious accident.
Stay off sidewalks.
Riding a bicycle on a sidewalk is illegal in Chicago. Sidewalks are for pedestrians only in the city.
Watch out for pedestrians crossing the street.
Always yield to pedestrians and others who are in an intersection or crosswalk, and be sure to do a complete scan for anyone trying to cross the street as you approach.
Use hand signals.
Hand signals communicate your upcoming movements and can be used to point out road obstacles or to express thanks when a vehicle yields the right of way.
This includes using a phone or other handheld device, listening to music, and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Protecting yourself after an accident
You can take precautions while riding your bicycle in Chicago and still become an accident victim simply because you are largely at the mercy of the city’s motorists.
Some drivers may not be paying attention. Others may make a sharp turn into your lane without signaling. It doesn’t really matter how safe of a rider you are — you have little protection in a crash and can easily sustain major injuries as a result of one careless person’s actions.
If you were injured or a loved one died in a bicycle accident in Chicago, it’s your legal right to seek full financial compensation for your economic and non-economic damages. This can include your current and future medical bills, lost income, your pain and suffering, and much more.
Don’t let an insurance adjuster who doesn’t have your best interests at heart try to delay, downplay, or deny your claim. You were there. You know what happened. And we can help you fight for the money you deserve.
Discover what an experienced Chicago bicycle accident lawyer from Coplan & Crane can do for you. Our law firm has a wealth of experience representing accident victims just like you in Chicago, Oak Park, throughout Illinois, and across the Midwest. Backed by a dedicated and hard-working legal staff, our attorneys provide aggressive representation and treat every client with respect.
Contact us today for a free consultation.