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Junction Of Western And Logan Is Getting Protected Bike Lane, But It Took 'School Of Rock' Star Kevin Clark's Death To Make It Happen

CHICAGO (CBS) -- For years, residents of the Avondale and Logan Square communities pushed to make the intersection of Western Avenue and Logan Boulevard safer.

But as CBS 2's Charlie De Mar reported Thursday night, it wasn't until former child actor and Chicago bicyclist Kevin Clark was killed in a crash there in May that they got a response.

Days after Clark died early on the morning of Wednesday, May 26, his family was out at the intersection advocating for safety improvements. Soon, bikers there will have designated protected lanes - but they are coming at the ultimate cost.

If the congestion and the confusion at Western Avenue under the Kennedy Expressway doesn't give you pause, the two white ghost bikes—placed in honor of lives lost most certainly will.

"We look forward to the day that we can go to that intersection and see that it is safer," said Matthew Portman.

For Portman and his family, that day is coming. Clark was his cousin, and was cycling at the site when he was hit by a car and later died.

Clark was a drummer and music teacher, and a native of Highland Park. You may remember his face from his role in the 2003 Jack Black movie "School of Rock," in which he played rocking kid drummer Freddy Jones.

At that time, he was 13. He was 32 when he died.

"The city fixing this intersection is the bare minimum that they can do," Portman said. We don't want every problem intersection to have a death happen before they fix it."

Later this month, the city is installing protected bike lines on Logan Boulevard between Campbell Avenue and Diversey Parkway. A lane of traffic will be removed to make room for the safety enhancements.

For years, the Active Transportation Alliance has advocated for change the Western Avenue and Logan Boulevard intersection.

"And there was very little response or action from the city," said Active Transportation Alliance spokesman Kyle Whitehead.

In 2018, Whitehead said a report was presented to city leaders detailing the dangers of the intersection and safety recommendations - but nothing was done. It took a death for any real change.

"Frustrating, and it's tragic," Whitehead said, "the fact that everybody knows how dangerous this intersection is and still, the city wasn't willing to do anything about it."

"As devastating as this has been for our family, if making this intersection safer is something that can come out of that - but that's just one wonderful way to honor Kevin's memory and legacy," added Portman.

The project is set to begin in mid-September and take a couple weeks.

The intersection is shared by the aldermen Daniel La Spata (1st) and Scott Waguespack (32nd). We are told money will come from both the wards to help fund the project.


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