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Cyclist killed during Da Tour of Chicago
25.02.08 by Buffalo Bill

A cyclist was killed by a collision with a SUV (aka 4 X 4) in Chicago last Saturday.

from Chicago CBS web-site:

Cyclist Killed By Car On North Side
CHICAGO (STNG) ― A cyclist was struck and killed by a vehicle on the North Side Sunday morning.
Matt Manger-Lynch, of 1414 W. Lill Ave., was hit by a vehicle at 4000 N. Lincoln Ave. about 9:15 a.m. Sunday as he was riding his bike. He was taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center where he was pronounced dead a short time later, according to police News Affairs Officer Marcel Bright.

That address is located near the large three-way intersection of West Irving Park Road and North Damen and North Lincoln avenues.

A spokesman for the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office confirmed that they had been notified of a death at that address. The spokesman said the victim is a 29-year-old male.

The driver of the vehicle involved in the accident will probably not receive any citations. The cyclist was apparently a part of a group of many cyclists riding in the area and the driver was attempting to avoid other bicycles when he or she struck and killed the victim, Bright said.

The Major Accidents Investigation Unit is probing the crash.

It seems that dead man was participating in Da Tour of Chicago, which is a winter alleycat. (see note)

From the web-site of the Chicago Cuttin Crew, who appear to be a team of sponsored alleycat racers from the Chicago area, which seems to sum up the feelings of Chicago riders well:

Matt loved cycling. It was apparent seeing his face and name at our rides over and over. Like many, I never had the honor of knowing Matt as a writer, student, family member or old friend. Instead, I was one of the many that knew him as a cyclist. It was a common bond so many of us share. We hardly know what everyone else’s lives entail outside of cycling but it’s this incredible passion that brings us together and helps us to share our lives. Matt was so amazing for coming out to ride. He was a mystery to most of us because he came out to do what he loved, he would even whoop on us quite a bit, but then would return to his other routines without a peep.

God I hate this news. Up until now, the worst day of ever having to get back on the bike was the day after finding out about Ryan Boudreau’s fatal accident. It’s become a horrifyingly familiar feeling. It’s an instinctive reaction to feel some responsibility and be overcome with guilt. Damn me for ever picking up a bicycle and damn me for even thinking of riding a bicycle ever again. Why do I promote these things? Why do I ride like that? Why wasn’t I there? Why couldn’t I do something? Why do I do this? Jesus, it could have been me!

It feels disrespectful and disgusting to consider getting back into the very thing that Matt had given his life to enjoy. Not only that, think of the consciences of the truck driver that took Ryan’s life last year and the conscience of the driver of that SUV from that morning being forever haunted by these horrible experiences. Above all, his poor family and friends are left to grieve over an all too sudden loss.

Had anyone known that the tragedy of Matthew Manger-Lynch’s death was going to happen, there isn’t a soul on this earth that would have done what they planned on doing today. Life can be so fragile, I am often afraid to ever live it. The one time you forget your seatbelt. The one time you eat the wrong thing. The one time you forget your medicine. The one time you cross the street. The one time you forget to say goodbye. It’s not fair how easily something this precious can be taken from us.

You cannot stop living the life you love and doing the things that make you happy. Sure, you can change the way you do something, but there will always be a possible moment you slip up and luck will either carry you through or it won’t. The only certain thing is this moment you have to contact those important to you and let them know that.

It’s not disrespectful to get back on that bike and do the things that make you and others happy. I would think it’s disrespectful to witness something like this and not see the opportunities life has given you. This has given you a reminder to get a hold of those important to you. It has given you a reminder to let your family know you love them, let your friends know your grateful for them, let your world be a little bit better because you have the opportunity to do so.

Matt has not gone in vain. He will make all of us better at enjoying life and the things we truly love. Let’s return the favor by letting those we love know it and helping those who have lost the great gift of Matthew Manger-Lynch to make it through these hardest of times…

Let’s be honest: alleycats are irresponsible, dangerous and ill-advised. I say this as one of the guys who helped to introduce the phenomenon to London. As an organiser, I dreaded injuries to participants.

As a racer, I hurt myself badly in one, but mostly steered clear of trouble. I famously lost a race because I bottled out of rushing a junction. The guys behind me went for it, and won the race.

I have seen 2 riders, one in Berlin and one in Richmond, VA, get knocked a long way in the air by cars after they shot stop-lines without sufficient care. Those guys walked away. As we always used to say at the starts, there is a prize for finishing last, but there are no prizes for crashing.

I don’t know what happened in this case, although the various forums are alive with speculation and recrimination. I don’t want to pass judgement on anyone right now.

I was talking to westcoast and a few of the guys about it, and the general consensus was that ‘it had to happen sometime’. Someone was bound to die, sooner or later. So why do we do alleycats? Because they are fun? Is it a need to expose yourself to danger, is satisfying that need what makes it fun? Or is it riding with other people together, with a common purpose, is that what makes it fun? Sharing the stories afterwards? Is any of that worth dying for?

However, having said that alleycats are dangerous, I have had a lot more serious offs in proper, organised races than I ever had in an alleycat. I broke my wrist at the German Open Cycle Messenger Champs, and lost more skin than I care to think about at Eastway. These were races on closed courses.

Out on the public roads, in sanctioned road races, in which the speeds are far greater than in any alleycat I have ridden, the dangers are constant. Any small ripple in the pack can lead to someone getting flicked, and if you get flicked at the wrong moment, you eat it large. Anyone who follows the road race scene here in the UK knows that it is a dangerous sport, and that the possibility of serious injury is something that you have to accept if you want to participate in cycle sport.

The last big sportive that I did, la Marmotte 2005, a guy was killed after falling on the descent of the Col du Glandon. I passed his stricken, crumpled body on the descent, like all the other 6 000 riders. People die racing bikes. They alwayshave, and they always will.

Does this mean that we need to change the way alleycats are organised? Well, any alleycat organiser, any bicycle race organiser, needs to consider rider safety whilst planning. A race organiser who deliberately puts his or her riders in jeopardy should be told straight that it’s not ok to mess with other people’s health and livelihood.

There’s a limit to what an organiser can do. At the ECMC 2003, there was strict enforcement of hard-shell helmet wearing. It wasn’t popular, but it was done. I think we probably would not have been able get insured if we had not.

During the night one of our guests who was staying on the camp-site decided to take a night ride on the course. He fell, hit his head, and lost part of the sight in one eye. What can you do?

I broke my thumb falling from my bike riding at less than 12 mph. It was an unsurfaced road, and my front wheel hit something I didn’t see. As I approached the unsurfaced section, I can remember thinking, oh, I need to be careful here. And suffered the worst injury that I have ever sustained riding.

What am I trying to say here? I don’t know. No amount of words blogged, posted or spoken will bring the young man back, there is no explanation that will comfort his wife right now. All we can do is be thankful that is was not us, reflect on the fragile nature of existence and be careful.

~ Note: there is some debate about whether this was a ‘real’ alleycat. According to Andy Duncan, writing on the messengers list, it depends how you define “alleycat” …. because this was not a checkpoint race in which racers find their own way between checkpoints, but one in which a route was already drawn out on a map the racers to follow, some say that it was not an alleycat …. but then again, what difference does it make?~

  1. One ignorant alleycat racer down…about 200 more to go.

    As much as the holy roller alleycat racers want to preach about how alleycat races are about self-expression, revolution, comraderie or some other out-of-touch counter-culture bullshit, Matt was no victim. He just happen to be the one who caught the bullet that has been coming for some time. The true victim is the driver of the car that HE hit who has blood on on his hands because some group of jerks decides that it’s their right to intentionally disregard well intentioned and reasonable traffic laws.

    If you choose to put yourself at risk, have at it. If you get something out of it, cool. You do not, however, have a right to put others at risk too.

    I saw Alex Wilson of West Town Bikes interviewed by the local news station. He actually blamed the evil SUV on Matt’s death. “A bike has never killed anyone, cars kill bikers all the time.” Who gave this bright one a microphone.

    Let’s be truly honest, it’s Matt’s fault, and Matt’s alone. I hope the guy driving the car that killed him sues Matt’s family and gets some sort of compensation for the damage to his car and frankly for Matt ruining this guy’s day.

    I guess the right this to to is to try and assuage woefull sorrow of the grieving alleycat racers who so loved Matt by calling him a hero who died for a cause.

    Yeah right.

    — Callous in Chicago    29 February 2008, 03:07    #
  2. There is more than one way to skin a cat. I didn’t hear what Alex Wilson said, but what you have said is grotesquely insensitive. You ought to be ashamed of yourself, sir.

    — Bill    29 February 2008, 06:46    #
  3. Sorry about my English.
    That goes to the first comment:
    Matt is the victim as well as his family. The person who drives a car in a city should allways have the control over his vehicule, as cyclist do. What really happen in cities is that many drivers move their cars without any sensibility, that day was Matt, but it could be a child followin a ball.
    If you can´t control your car, you can´t control your tongue and you can´t control your nerves, just walk.

    Aida    29 February 2008, 08:45    #
  4. Wow, CiC, way to misunderstand that one. What Mr. Wilson said is that we should not blame the victim- he didn’t say that we should blame the SUV driver.

    Although, you have to admit, if the driver was behind the wheel of a more sensible vehicle, Matt might be alive today. It’s a lot easier to run over people in a 4×4 than it is in a ‘normal’ car.

    And, of course, if Matt hadn’t run the light, he might be alive as well. But people do stupid stuff on the road every day, alleycats or not, and it’s important to remember that “well intentioned and reasonable” traffic laws are neither when it comes to bicycles. And the reason why traffic laws exist are to keep people from killing each other with their cars- there streets aren’t a dangerous place because of bicycles. It’s also important to remember that a cyclist running a light through a huge 5-way intersection probably isn’t putting anyone else at risk, other than him/herself. Maybe they risk putting a scratch on someone else’s car if they get run over. Big deal.

    The fact that you think a cyclist (or anyone, really) deserves to die for running a red light is- I don’t know. I can’t think of a word to describe that particular combination of stupidity and insanity.

    — dave    29 February 2008, 11:19    #
  5. I do not know how many Car drivers have hit and killed passive bike riders. I can tell you that last year a guy ran a red and did mow down a whole pack of bikes. None of whom where in an AlleyCat or any sort of rush. they where just riding along (really) and some guy ran them down and killed them.
    he got off “scott Free” also.

    so Callous, where is your head at. perhaps if i see you walking on the pavement perhaps I can run you over and get away with a defect cause I will say “brake Failure” I cant believe that you feel you must actually count 200 to go. perhaps if we went camping and perhaps some mountain biking. you could walk off a cliff or something.

    yogi    29 February 2008, 11:26    #
  6. Seems to me there are really two major approaches to assessing what happened- 1. bike v. car or 2. risk management.

    The first is going to get a lot more coverage because it’s divisive and fires people up. It’s hard to find any kind of balanced views here because folks want to find absolutes, ie one side is evil because of the actions of a few or the other should be absolved of all sins because of the good they bring. As a former bike messenger and alleycat racer and long time car driver (my next 4-wheeled motor vehicle may well be an SUV, a decision I’ve made for a list of reasons I won’t get into here), my own viewpoints are probably as self-serving as everyone else’s.

    Risk management, on the other hand, is not a sexy topic and it’s not something people get fired up about. It sounds (and is) something out of a corporate handbook. In fact, most people avoid the topic and want someone else to take care of it, usually in the form of legislation, sometimes in the form of litigation. Anyone who exposes themselves to danger, whether cyclist or car driver or mountain climber, has to understand the risks they take- not just for themselves but also for all those around them who may be affected.

    seng    29 February 2008, 19:34    #
  7. Cool comment.

    — Bill    29 February 2008, 19:39    #
  8. iheartbrains, too. nice point of view, nice comment. nice photography as well, mate.

    two wheels good four wheels bad just does not solve the issue here. you run a red and you put other people in danger too. force a bus to emergency stop and an old lady falls. force a truck (hgv for the local boys) to swerve and god knows what will happen.

    EVERYone should show responsibility for their actions. racing alleycats is irresponsible, operating massive amounts of steel is irresponsible as well. it’s a sad world out there. people lose their lifes. certainly not always for a cause. but ultimately showing responsibility for their actions.

    can’t beat that system.

    — dubhead    14 March 2008, 16:58    #
  9. As a driver in chicago, cyclists are out of control. They constantly do dangerous and illegal things, and bank on the fact that you’ll see their dumb ass when they come in front of you. How many times have I had to drive into oncoming lanes to avoid a biker? countless. I feel bad he died, but if what he was doing was illegal and he was disregarding the rules of the road, then he certainly is NOT a victim. He put himself in danger and he paid the price. My sympathies go to the driver who was swerving to miss OTHER cyclists and has to deal with this ignorant kids death, when in fact it was more his responsibility than theirs. Cyclists, get it through your head; you have just as much a responsibility to safety as drivers do. If you cant fit that around your head, dont be crying “why me” as you lay there dying from a horrific accident.

    Blake    11 June 2008, 00:36    #
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