City-owned truck driver critically injured female cyclist, 31, at Belmont/Milwaukee

This morning the right-turning driver of a city-owned dump truck, possibly belonging to the Chicago Department of Transportation, which is in charge of bicycle safety efforts, struck and dragged a 31-year-old woman on a bike in Avondale, critically injuring her. At about 8:30 a.m. the woman was biking northwest on Milwaukee Avenue and then turned right, eastbound, on Belmont Avenue, according to Police News Affairs. A male truck driver, 48, who was also heading northwest on Milwaukee turned east on Belmont at the same time as the cyclist.

The trucker ran over the cyclist, trapping her underneath the vehicle and dragging her. The woman was taken to Illinois Masonic Hospital in critical condition, News Affairs said. The driver, who was reportedly hysterical after the collision, was transported to Swedish American Hospital for evaluation.

According to police, the driver was not immediately cited or charged. Area Five is investigating the case. A Sun-Times report stated that a law enforcement source said the truck belonged to CDOT.

Department officials did not immediately confirm this.

The Sun-Times reported that a police spokeswoman said the trucker claimed the cyclist was in his blind spot. Here’s a video of a witness Esteban Burgoa partially blaming the crash on poor sight lines caused by a light pole.

#ChicagoScanner Witness at Milwaukee and Belmont to cyclist being hit this AM.

Driver was making right turn in city vehicle, cyclist headed north. This is 2nd witness, Esteban Burgoa, who has video. pic.twitter.com/RTQGy4j7UM — Dominic Gwinn (@DominicGwinn) June 23, 2020

Here’s a longer account of the crash posted by Burgoa on Facebook. The video shows this damaged orange Gary Fisher mountain bike with a green water bottle at the scene, which police took out from under the truck.

Burgoa said the victim was wearing a back top and black bike shorts with white socks. “Thank God she’s OK — she gave us [a] thumbs-up.”

Image: Esteban BurgoaImage: Esteban Burgoa

“[The driver] was not paying attention when they turned this truck, I can tell you that,” Burgoa said in the video. “They were not paying attention when they turned around, did not see the girl, and the girl got caught.” Burgoa told CBS Chicago, “The only way the truck stopped is because the local guys that are looking for work here were kind enough to hear the screams of the lady, and they ran in front of the truck, and they tried to tell the trucker to stop. That was the only way he stopped, because if he would have continued driving, she would have been killed by those rear wheels very easy.”

There have been at least seven or fatal bike crashes involving right-turning truckers striking cyclists in Chicago since 2016, including two deaths on Milwaukee Avenue. In all of these cases the victim was female or gender non-conforming.

  • On July 1, 2016, a flatbed truck driver fatally struck former Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois employee Virginia Murray, 25, at Belmont and Sacramento avenues in Avondale.
  • On August 16, 2016, a flatbed truck driver fatally struck Art Institute student Lisa Kuivinen, 20, at Milwaukee and Racine Avenue in River West.
  • On September 23, 2016, a semi driver struck special education teacher Danielle “Dee” Palagi, 26, at Roosevelt Road and Wood Street near the Illinois Medical Campus, breaking her pelvis and elbow, and leading to the amputation of her foot.
  • On September 26, 2016, a flatbed truck driver fatally struck health coach Anastasia Kondrasheva, 23, at Addison Street and Damen Avenue in Roscoe Village.
  • On August 9, 2018, the driver of a dump truck owned by Lakeshore Recycling Systems struck and killed fitness instructor and coach Angela Park, 39, at Madison and Halsted streets in Greektown.
  • On November 6, 2019, a dump truck driver fatally struck school counselor Carla Aiello, 37, at Milwaukee and Kilbourn avenues in the Irving Park community.

In the wake of the 2016 crashes, in July 2017 Chicago’s City Council passed an ordinance requiring that any business with a city contract worth £2 million or more install side guards — hardware that helps prevent pedestrians and cyclists from going under the wheels — and convex mirrors on all trucks used to fulfill the contract that weigh 10,000 pounds or more. The Council also earmark £5 million for retrofitting 1,700 city vehicles with the safety gear.

The truck from today’s crash appears to have at least one convex mirror. It may also have side guards. A 2007 report from the U.K. found that female cyclists in London were three times as likely to be fatally struck by turning truck drivers as men, apparently because women were more likely to obey traffic signals and get caught in the drivers’ blind spots. A 2016 DePaul University study citied the British report, making the argument that cities like Chicago should legalize the “Idaho Stop,” allowing cyclists to treat stoplights like stop signs, so that they can get out of intersections before motorists going the same direction get the green.

On February 21, 2016, a hit-and-run driver fatally struck auto mechanic Chris Sanchez, 34, at the Belmont/Milwaukee intersection.

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