Michael Hackman Killed In Willistown Bike Crash

by | July 22, 2020 | Crash, Biking the Region, News, Vision Zero | 4 comments

Michael Hackman

Rest in Power Michael Hackman

According to the Chester County Daily Local, 64 Year Old Michael Hackman was struck from behind and killed by a driver on Providence Road near the Radnor Hunt Club in Willistown Township Chester County on Saturday. Michael was the fourth person on a bicycle killed in the region in the past 30 days. 

Michael’s resume reflects a lifetime of community service. Most notably he directed a ten year plan to end homelessness in Chester County. Chester County Commissioners issued a statement reading “He worked tirelessly in our Department of Community Development to end chronic homelessness through the Decades to Doorways program. Our deepest condolences are with his family, his friends and co-workers, and the many people who are no longer homeless because of his passion and dedication.”

Providence Road near the site of the fatal crash that killed

This Google Streetview image is near the location where Michael Hacker was killed on Saturday.

We don’t know why the driver struck Michael from behind nor do we know if charges have been filed. Striking a bicyclist from behind should bring charges of violating of the State’s four foot passing law. What we know for sure is that the 45 mile per hour speed limit on Providence Road is lethal for vulnerable road users. With poor sight lines and a total road width of just 21 feet it’s miraculous that tragedies like this don’t happen more often. According to DVRPC, the Average Annual Daily Traffic (AADT) on Providence Rd is about 4,000 vehicles per day. Using Cornell’s 15 minute traffic volume formula that averages about 8 cars passing by every minute during rush hour.

PennDOT has hundreds of miles of semi-rural roads like this in the outer suburbs. These narrow roads minimize the asphalt footprint of the landscape but traffic volumes on these once quiet roads have increased exponentially by suburban sprawl. PennDOT, to its credit, has established a goal of reducing traffic deaths by 50% by 2030. The state and the region need to solve the bike and pedestrian access issues in these communities if we ever really want to reach the goal of zero traffic deaths.

Our deepest sympathies go out Michael Hackman’s family and friends.  The Facebook page of our affiliate, Bike Chester County, will be updated with additional information as it emerges.

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  1. Angela

    Cars side swiped me on two state roads that have four lanes. This happened in one ride. However I am noticing drivers are becoming more aggressive towards cyclists… but not motor cyclists. What remedies do we have?

  2. RL

    Michael was my neighbor. This is a horrible tragedy. I ride that same road often, and I was surprised by the traffic volume statistic you cited. I suppose it might be true during rush hour (I rarely ride during rush hour), but of the times I’ve ridden past there, it has been sparsely traveled. Also, Michael was struck by the driver at 7:40 PM on a Saturday. So I don’t think traffic volume would have been a factor in this instance. Poor site lines, maybe, but it’s not really that bad. It just makes me wonder what else a cyclist can do (besides the obvious) to reduce the likelihood of this happening, other than avoiding that road altogether, which I’d rather not do but now probably will.

  3. Jim Laurino

    It is a tragedy that Michael was killed. My sympathy to his friends and family. It is an outrage that drivers often think that their needs outweigh their duty to respect the safety of others on the road. Willistown is unusual in many ways, there are few roads and lots of protected farmland. It is a beautiful place to ride. The four foot passing rule should have protected him, but did not, and, I suspect the driver will receive nothing more than a minor sanction, though I hope I am wrong. I think the road itself is unsafe, and bears part of the blame for this tragedy. I wonder who sets the speed limits on these roads, and what their priorities are in choosing them. I fear that highway planners may put too much emphasis on the convenience of drivers, at the expense of everyone else. I believe that the narrow roads in the area are a deliberate choice by the locality to attempt to minimize car traffic. But I wonder if PennDot sets the speed limits, and is in conflict with the local policy. A lower speed limit might have saved Michael. It is, perhaps, more difficult to make trade-offs between time saved and lives lost than it should be. That problem affects all of us.

  4. cgh

    My condolences to family and friends. I ride this road 3-4 times per week. It was great during the shut down. Then, slowly but surely, the cars came back; first in volume, then in speed. There’s no shoulder on this road, and many potholes. Trying to keep a predictable line close to the painted line means that cars will need to pass. As cyclists we all know the deal… rough rule of thirds: one-third buzzes you at 150% the speed limit, one-third knows how to share the road and safely/effectively pass, and one-third just sits at your 7 o’clock having no idea how to safely pass eventually having a stress response flying by you in the opposite shoulder. My closest calls in the Malvern area since going to green phase have been with kids on back roads driving recklessly fast. I’d say 25% of the time the car wreaks with weed. The only time I was hit was by an older gentleman you couldn’t see me in the shade of the tree line. I wound up comforting him while I was a bloodied ball in the bushes. I could see this on Providence late in the day – the shadows would be cost long from the hedges and trees. Stay safe out there everyone.


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