Friday, February 29, 2008

a life cut short

Sunday morning's fatal bicycle-SUV collision was a tragedy for many people: Matt Manger-Lynch, his friends and family, witnesses, the driver, and the local bike community. The comments after the Tribune article are an interesting collection of thoughts, some insightful, some clueless. The Trib ran a good follow-up piece today.

The cyclist was part of an local alleycat race, an underground race series in its 10th year here in Chicago. To give you a sense of what it is, here's a video of one stage of last year's race and a collection of maps, standings and such from previous years.

It started as a bike messenger phenomenon and spread to a hardcore segment of the local bike community, appealing to competitive thrill seekers. I did not know Matt personally, but he sounds like someone who had a lot of creative talent and potential. I know some very creative people who have an element of risk taking in their personalities that gives a unique edge to their work.

When a cyclist chooses to ignore a red light, there may be consequences from that choice, possibly fatal crash, but at a minimum one more alienated driver who will later go on to menace other cyclists. Interactions between cyclists and drivers affect both sides. That individual's choice may affect an unknown number of people for an infinite period of time.

Riding in the race and running that red light was a gamble. Matt chose to take that risk, and he lost to a Chevy Suburban. None of us will know how many people may be affected by this tragic accident. None of us will get to see what he could have done with the rest of his life.

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