Chicago police are questioning a “person of interest” following the fatal hit-and-run involving a 22-year-old bicyclist on Wednesday night as bike advocates sound the alarm for the number of car-related deaths to cyclists in the city this year .
Nick Parlingayan, 22, of Chicago, was at least the third bicyclist fatality in 2022 when he was struck by a vehicle in the 3800 block of North Milwaukee Avenue in the Old Irving Park neighborhood on the Northwest Side around 9:20 pm Wednesday, law enforcement said.
And that’s three too many, according to advocates for better biking infrastructure and safety.
“My message to the city is that paint in plastic posts are not (enough) protection for people who are biking,” said Courtney Cobbs, co-founder of Better Street Chicago. “People who live in the area have said that the bike lane has faded in that area and that recent construction has made biking in the area even more dangerous than it already was before.”
Meanwhile, a person is being questioned, Chicago police said Thursday evening. No charges have been announced.
Investigators were looking for a black Nissan that was likely a 2020 to 2022 model, according to police. The Nissan “should have front passenger bumper damage as well as headlight damage,” police said. If the vehicle is located, authorities ask people to call 911 with information.
Parlingayan was taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in critical condition, officials said, but was pronounced dead at 10:10 pm
According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Chicago has had an average of about six bicyclist deaths per year since 2016, said Ken McLeod, policy director of the American League of Bicyclists, which is based in Washington.
“(Chicago) had an average of nearly 47 pedestrians killed each year,” McLeod said. “In 2020, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Chicago had eight bicyclist deaths, which is the most that it’s had from 2016 to 2020. … And if you ask me, that is a big number for a city.”
Although no official data from NHTSA is available for 2021 yet, Streetsblog Chicago reported that there were 10 bicyclists deaths on surface streets through their Fatality Tracker.
“More than 1,200 people lost their lives in preventable bicycle incidents in 2020 (in the US), which was a 16% increase compared to 2019,” said Heidi Simon, senior program manager of mobility safety strategy at the Itasca-based National Safety Council . “Over the past decade, preventable bicycle deaths have increased 44%.”
Simon said protected bike lanes, physical barriers and appropriate speed limits will all make bike lanes safer for cyclists. And Cobbs, of Better Street Chicago, said that infrastructure changes for biking are critical for these collisions to be prevented.
“I’m hoping that the city doesn’t just sigh and look at this as like, ‘Oh, that’s really unfortunate’ and chooses not to do anything,” Cobbs said. “We need to respond to these preventable incidents by fixing the streets and making them truly safe for people.”
The hit-and-run remains under investigation by the major accident investigation team.
Anyone with additional details or surveillance video is asked to call 312-745-4521.