Bicyclist fatally struck by truck at Oak and Wells - FOX 32 News Chicago

Bicyclist fatally struck by truck at Oak and Wells

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

A Chicago attorney who liked to ride his bike to work was killed Friday when he was hit by a semi truck, after police say he swerved to avoid someone opening a car door.

Police say Neill Townsend, a 32-year-old attorney, was riding his bike south on Wells Street around 9 a.m. Friday morning when a parked driver opened a door into the bike lane, causing Townsend to swerve into the path of a semi-truck. That truck ran him over.

Townshend died at the scene. The driver who opened the car door was ticketed and the driver of the truck has not been charged.

Townsend was headed to work at this West Side design company. Now, a sign there has the message, "We love you Neill."

Riders who travel Wells Street often say the risk of people opening their car doors--so-called "doorings"--is a constant hazard.

"If you'renot thinking a step ahead, you definitely can get hurt very easily," says biker Swen Plec.

"You just yell out hey, or you whistle, people generally get a little freaked out or they pull the door back or something," another biker, Charley Jordan says. "I've had people swear at me."

The city's expanded bike routes include not just lanes like the one on Wells, but also protected paths. "Doorings" can still occur, but the biker is protected from moving traffic. On some streets, there will be buffer zones on both sides of parked cars to reduce "doorings."

Attorney Jim Freeman, a biker himself, specializes in bicycle injury cases.

"About a third of all bicycle accidents in the city of Chicago are a doorings," Freeman says.

Freeman points out those accidents like these would happen even if there weren't bike lanes, because riders are obligated to ride alongside parked cars where bike lanes don't exist. He says he's always on the alert for doors

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