Cyclist dies in accident with semi-trailer truck

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Thursday, October 20, 2005
By Rachel,1,1841784.story

Published October 18, 2005

CHICAGO -- A male bicyclist was killed Monday by a semi-trailer truck driving on a Stevenson Expressway ramp, officials said.

About 10:35 a.m., while the truck driver was preparing to merge from the Stevenson onto Cicero Avenue, he noticed a bicyclist had become wedged beneath the trailer's rear tires, according to Illinois State Police Trooper Michelle Tufenkjian.

The unknown bicyclist was pronounced dead at 1:30 p.m. at the Stein Institute, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.

He was carrying no identification, and police were using his fingerprints Monday night to try to identify him, Tufenkjian said.

No citations were issued in the incident, she said.

Copyright © 2005, Chicago Tribune

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With only this small article, it's hard to make an educated guess, but here's the best try:

If the driver was in the right lane making a right onto Cicero, there's a good chance the guy shorted the turn and didn't do a good buttonhook. What that does is make the trailer wheels seriously offtrack; the trailer drifts right as the wheels twist right gradually. That's why you should never be on the right side of a truck when it's making its right turn, in a car, walking, or on a bike. The wheels will go up on the curb and walk upon the sidewalk. Though this is an easy corner, and its design doesn't force an off-track.

If the cyclist was inattentive while trucks passed (hey, not knocking the cyclist, innocent mistake; you see 99 trucks make the turn fine, you're not expecting the 100th to short it), he would've never had a chance once he got bit. And if the truck mirrors are not adjusted right, the driver won't be able to see back to the rears until he began to straighten a bit. You won't believe how many pedestrians I saw who'd watch an off-tracking trailer's tires come up to their toes before they'd give a hint of self-preservation and move.

I can't envision a situation where this could've happened on a left turn off of the ramp. He'd have had to already been accelerating down Cicero to kill a guy if this was off a left turn. The article says he was still going from ramp to street at the time.

After eight years of it, I'm glad I don't do city hauls with 60 feet of truck and 18 wheels any more. It's one of those jobs that doesn't phase you when you're working it, but once you've moved on you think of the heavy situations and wonder "wtf was I thinking when I took that job." When the old "spaghetti bowl" ramps were on Cicero at Ogden, it was nearly impossible to take a 53 foot trailer on it and not walk the sidewalk at least somewhat, even while bumping the front tires on the opposing curb in front and going 10 mph.

Note to all: when you're hanging out at an intersection and a truck is making a right turn on your corner, pay attention to the trailer wheels. At least dismount and get ready to jump. For real.
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