Police identify victim

KCPD has identified John W. Triggs as the cyclist who died in a collision with a cement truck on Friday at 12th and Grand in downtown KC. Triggs was a regular cyclist who had written a book about cycling across country.

KC Star: Avid cyclist met his end on routine trip.

Ghost Bike
Ghost bike at 12th & Grand

Posted on Wed, Jun. 14, 2006

Avid cyclist met his end on routine trip

The Kansas City Star
John W. Triggs, 65, had traveled the world on his bicycle.

He had survived accidents, hardships and extreme temperatures on trips that spanned thousands of miles.

But it was a three-mile jaunt from his home to the Kansas City Public Library that ended his life Friday. While returning home, Triggs’ bike collided with a loaded cement-mixing truck.

“He always wanted to be on a bike,” Triggs’ son, Nicholas Triggs, said Tuesday.

John Triggs was riding east on a sidewalk along 12th Street when he encountered the truck at Grand Boulevard about 4 p.m. Friday, police said. Triggs saw the truck and stopped, witnesses told police.

The truck paused as its driver prepared to make a wide turn to avoid the curb and head south on Grand to a construction site.

Triggs may have thought the truck had stopped to let him proceed, police said. Triggs rode into the street. The truck, which was halfway into its turn, clipped his bike and knocked Triggs to the asphalt.

The truck’s rear dual tires ran over Triggs, who became entangled in the tires and was dragged a block before the driver realized what had happened.

The driver told police he did not see Triggs.

Police said Tuesday they could not determine who was at fault.

“It could be a draw,” police Detective Paul Luster said. “Right now, we can’t place the blame on either person.”

It took police several days to identify the bicyclist because of his traumatic injuries. The victim had a bank card bearing Triggs’ name in his pocket, and relatives and friends identified the damaged bike as his.

Investigators on Tuesday matched fingerprints found in Triggs’ home to those on the body.

Nicholas Triggs said his father rode to the library Friday to pick up a book and send a few e-mails. He rode his bicycle everywhere and was a stubborn adventurer, his son said.

In 1993, John Triggs loaded a bicycle with 65 pounds of camping gear and set off to visit each of the 48 contiguous U.S. states by himself. He rode 17,300 miles over 13 months and in 1996 published a book about his adventures, America at 10 Miles Per Hour.

In his book, Triggs explained how he came up with the idea.

“What a way to see the country. … A bicycle puts you in touch with things going on around you. I’d be going all over the country strictly on my own muscle power … and I wouldn’t have to spend a dime on gasoline.”

Triggs wrote that at one point on his trip, he was struck by a vehicle, knocked unconscious and “left for dead along a lonely road deep in rural New Mexico.”

The accident ruined his bike and left him bruised. He spent a few days recovering, bought a new bike and continued the trip.

Triggs was not a typical, long-mileage bicyclist, his son said. He shunned fancy riding outfits and catered tours for handmade denim shorts and a portable stove.

He once joined a formal riding group for a two-day bike ride to prepare for his cross-country trek.

“It looked more like a fashion show than a bike trip,” he wrote in his book. “I looked like a prospector with a pack mule entering the Kentucky Derby.”

Triggs left last year to ride across Europe and had touched half the countries when he learned that his best friend had fallen ill. He returned home in April and moved in with David Sperry to care for him.

Sperry met Triggs 40 years ago, when they joined a Catholic society in Kansas City that was focused on missionary work. They remained friends as Triggs married, had two sons, became widowed, remarried and became widowed again.

Triggs earned a college degree in social studies, worked 20 years as an advertising writer and then a nurses’ aide until he retired in 2005. Besides bicycling, he enjoyed gardening, canoeing, genealogy and music. He played viola, violin and cello in civic orchestras and string quartets.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Nicholas Triggs said he worried about his father’s safety in Europe. Recognizing the perils he faced, John Triggs wrote his obituary before leaving.

“I figured once he was back here, everything was OK,” Nicholas Triggs said. “I’m still a bit shocked that something like this could happen.”

A life spent in motion
•John W. Triggs, 65, who was killed Friday in a bicycling accident, rode 17,300 miles over 13 months, starting in 1993, through all 48 contiguous states. He chronicled the trip in a book, America at 10 Miles Per Hour .

•Last year Triggs toured half the countries of Europe before he cut the trip short.

•Triggs was an advertising writer for 20 years, then worked as a nurses’ aide until he retired in 2005.

•Besides bicycling, he enjoyed gardening, canoeing, genealogy and music.

•He played viola, violin and cello in civic orchestras and string quartets.



To reach Christine Vendel, call (816) 234-4438 or send e-mail to cvendel@kcstar.com.

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