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Minneapolis bicyclist killed wanted slower speeds, 'protected bike lanes'

Alex Wolf, 30, was killed last week as a truck driver turned into a bike lane.

Alex Wolf, 30, was killed last week as a truck driver turned into a bike lane. Twitter/Ethan Fawley

Alex Wolf gave the Twin Cities biking community a powerful image in the fight for safer streets.

The gift is a posthumus one: Wolf, 30, was the rider killed last week when a semi-truck stopped at a red light turned from 12th Street onto Linden Avenue on the edge of downtown. Wolf, who was riding in a bike lane headed the same direction, was declared dead at the scene. The accident is still under investigation.

His death renewed calls for stronger protections for bicyclists and safer, slower, and more attentive habits from drivers. Two nights after the accident, bicycle and pedestrian safety advocates formed a human chain on the street where Wolf died to raise awareness and call for safer driving practices.

Biking was more than just a way to get around for Wolf, a Wisconsin native who had worked as a barista at One on One Bicycle Studio and was contributing to a documentary about Twin Cities bike messengers, according to the Star Tribune.

In an obituary he posted to Facebook, Wolf's father Keith wrote:

"Alex had a quiet and genuine concern for others and the world he lived in. He accepted others and encouraged them to be their best selves. He lived his life with passion; and he was a truly positive, life-changing influence for those who knew him.
He was a smart, funny, kind and talented young man. His interests were many, including indie and jazz music, movies, ultimate Frisbee, Quidditch, and [Dungeons & Dragons]."

Instead of flowers, Wolf's family urged donations in his memory be made to either the Alzheimer's Association or to Our Streets Minnepaolis, the nonprofit advocacy organization founded by the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition. 

Keith Wolf told KARE 11 his son "had very strong values," and biked partly out of environmental concerns. Keith also urged "anything that can be done to make people slow down and make the roads safer for everybody."

Alex Wolf wanted the same things. Twitter learned this in heartbreaking fashion on Tuesday from Ethan Fawley, program coordinator for the city of Minneapolis' Vision Zero, a project aimed at cutting traffic deaths and major injuries on city streets. Fawley, formerly the executive director of Our Streets Minneapolis, unearthed a photo of Wolf holding a sign offering his "best idea for making our streets safer."

The image led to an outpouring of grief from those who knew Wolf personally and calls to action from biking enthusiasts.

As it happens, Wolf's call for slower driving is in the works. Under a new law that went into effect this summer, cities can lower speed limits without state approval.

In September, the Minnneapolis City Council heard recommendations from Project Zero about lowering limits, and Fawley tweeted Tuesday that reduced speeds could go into effect as soon as this coming spring.

Wolf's funeral was scheduled to be held today in his hometown of Antigo, Wisconsin, with a "celebration of life" event to be held in Minneapolis at a later date.