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Every time there is a bike wreck in town, every time a motorist strikes a cyclist, every time there is an injury or a death, I wonder, “Who was that…is it somebody I know?” People ask me the same questions. “Did you know him?” or “Who was she?”

North Kansas City police work to identify cyclist killed by car

North Kansas City Police said Wednesday that they would have to use fingerprints to identify the bicyclist who was killed after being struck by a car.

The incident happened just after midnight at Burlington Road and 12th Avenue. The vehicle was traveling south when it collided into the bicyclist that was crossing the road.

The victim was pronounced dead at the scene. Police said the driver of the vehicle will not be cited. The bike did not have reflectors.

Police said they might know the victim’s name but he did not have photo identification at the time of the accident. Authorities said the man frequented the area and they had warned him about not having lights or reflectors.

Another story from the Star, with video from the scene

He has been identified by friends and a former employer. His name was Lewis Bailey. He was homeless. He was a drug addict. He was an avid cyclist. He was an enterprising man who would scavenge discarded flowers from behind florist shops, salvage the still-fresh blooms, re-make bouquets, and sell them from his bicycle. He was kind of a strange duck; given to incoherent ranting at times, muttering at others, singing at the top of his lungs on other occasions. But, odd though he could be, he was a genial character, well known and generally liked.

Lewis had just come into posession of the bike he was riding the night he was killed; it was an “adult trike,” a vintage delivery tricycle that he was extremely excited about. He told Sarah at ACME that he thought it would make his flower sales much easier. Contrary to news reports, the tricycle did have reflectors; two large round ones on the rear basket and one on the handlebars. Sarah said she checked it out the night he had come by to show it to her.

Lewis had a lot of bikes come through his posession over time. Some were stolen from him, he utterly misplaced a few, one was burned when one of his cooking fires got out of hand, and another, last summer, was smashed beyond all use when he was hit by another careless driver.

This was Lewis two years ago, with a cruiser he had named Dorothy. He was awfully fond of her, and had glued some studded leather swatches to the chainguard, fenders, and handlebars. Dorothy is one of the bikes which was stolen from him.

From Sarah at ACME:

many of you may have seen on the news this morning
that a cyclist was killed
at the corner of burlington and 12th
in northtown

he was lewis bailey
a long time friend of acme
known to many as the “flower man'
as he gathered day old flowers from local florists
and sold them from his bicycle

just fri he came in with a new bike
well it was used but it was
an adult three wheeler
he was very excited
knowing it would make it easier
to haul his flowers
and other found things around

lewis will be sorely missed
there will be a vigil for him THURSDAY
at 7pm
at the corner where he died

if anyonoe can bring a trailer
to haul his ghost bike
please give me a call at the shop
816 221 2045

Tomorrow we will ride out to hold a memorial at the spot where he was killed, place a Ghost Bike, and share remembrances of a colorful character who will be missed. I've volunteered to tow the Ghost Bike out with my BOB trailer.

The man had a hard-knock life, but he generally seemed to be a pretty up sort of person. At work today, I ran into one of his old employers from Grinder's Pizzaria, and we swapped a few Lewis stories, Anton telling me of a time Lewis was given a bottle of vodka and a half of a birthday cake with bright blue icing. Lewis downed the vodka, then, tighter than a boiled owl, proceded to eat the cake with no hands, just sticking his face right into it. Anton recalls seeing Lewis the next morning, dazed, befuddled, and looking like the world's tallest Smurf; the icing was gone but the food-dye lingered on.

The news stories are really brushing this incident off, emphasizing that Lewis was difficult to see, that the driver is not at fault.

The man was HOMELESS, people. The homeless are generally treated as invisible. Sarah & Christi had given him lights before, but he tended to plunder the batteries out of them to power his Walkman, or would use the lights as barter tender with other homeless or try to sell them to people for extra cash. He had reflectors, moreover, he was riding a very large vehicle. Have you folks ever seen one of those adult trikes? They aren't small.

Not Lewis's bike, but kind of similar.

I think the thing is that it was very late at night. The woman who hit him was probably very tired, not paying attention very well. Lewis was, indeed, wearing dark clothes, and though he did have reflectors, they aren't the most effective means of promoting visibility. So, he wasn't optimally visible, and she wasn't paying good attention. The combination of these two unfortunate circumstances resulted in tragedy.

I don't want to see anymore finger pointing at either of them. The sad fact remains that a man is dead, and that is that. All we can do now, is mourn, remember, and work harder at educating the public to being aware of and responsive to cyclists.

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