IDOT Truck Driver Injured Pregnant Divvy Rider on Augusta Last Week

POV shots where Divvy rider was hit by IDOT truck driver
The intersection where the IDOT truck driver struck Divvy rider.

An Illinois Department of Transportation employee driving a Ford pickup truck struck a pregnant Divvy rider at around 7 a.m. on Tuesday, September 3, at the intersection of Augusta Boulevard and Ashland Avenue. The 34-year-old victim, who was riding from East Village to work on Michigan Avenue, sustained injuries to her face and body; her pregnancy seems unaffected.

She was riding eastbound in the Augusta Boulevard bike lane and entered the intersection of Ashland Avenue while the light was green, according to her lawyer, Brendan Kevenides (disclosure: Kevenides’ firm, FK Law Illinois, is a sponsor of Streetsblog Chicago), who wrote about the crash on his blog:

Just after she crossed into the intersection, the traffic light controlling eastbound traffic turned from green to yellow. She entered the intersection legally. She pedaled across Ashland’s two southbound lanes. In most Chicago intersections it takes three seconds for a traffic signal to go from yellow to red. After she crossed the center line, the northbound driver, who had not stopped at the intersection, crashed into her right side, throwing her several feet.

The victim was unconscious and wounded deeply on her face and body, but doctors ruled out a major head injury. She had found out the day before that she was pregnant, which thankfully “seems unaffected,” Kevenides wrote.

The driver was traveling fast enough to throw the victim across the westbound lanes of Augusta. And if the victim had entered the intersection on a green light, the driver was required by law to stop at the intersection and wait for latent traffic to clear before entering. Nevertheless, he wasn’t cited and probably won’t be, according to Kevenides, who said, “I almost never see drivers cited after the fact.”

This intersection doesn’t have the typical all-red phase before the cross direction is given a green (see video below). The distance between the stop bars on each side of the intersection is 107 feet. If the victim was traveling at 10 mph, a respectable speed for riding Divvy, she would need 7.3 seconds to cross, but if the light turned yellow, which lasts for three seconds, as she rode over the eastbound stop bar, she would only be halfway across the intersection when the northbound lane received its green light. If she was traveling faster, at 12 mph, she would still need 6.1 seconds to cross.

Kevenides said there appear to be two cameras operated by the Office of Emergency Management and Communications, but as he pointed out, “We’ve found that getting video from OEMC is quite difficult, if not impossible, through the Freedom of Information Act.” In the past, Kevenides said he’s had to issue a subpoena to OEMC and threaten contempt of court to make the agency give up the footage. “It’s not like that getting red light footage from CDOT.”

Since the driver works for the state of Illinois, Kevenides explained, the lawsuit seeking compensation for injuries sustained in the crash must be filed in the court of claims, not in regular court. Kevenides added that damages are limited to $100,000, and “you’re not entitled to a trial by jury.”

Since launching on June 28, Divvy had seen 317,489 trips as of Wednesday morning, and this is the only crash involving a Divvy rider to reach our attention. At Wednesday’s Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council, CDOT’s Sean Wiedel said there was one crash with an injury (likely referring to this one) and three crashes to date, adding, “so far we’ve been lucky.”

The bike was demolished, according to Kevenides. The victim, he said, filed an incident report with Divvy’s insurer, and told him that “Divvy’s been really cool about it” but “we’ll see how long that lasts.”

  • How can you crash into someone and cause injuries and not be cited by the police…

    (rhetorical, head-shaking question)

  • BlueFairlane

    “Divvy’s been really cool about it” but “we’ll see how long that lasts.”

    I’ve been wondering how Divvy would handle damage from accidents that weren’t the rider’s fault. They’d better be cool about it, as the fall-out from being uncool would be be a severe chilling effect.

  • Fred

    I too was wondering. I would assume (and it appears) that part of your fee goes towards insurance. Its likely that every bike share loses some small percentage of bikes every year due to accidents, theft, vandalism, etc. I would certainly hope that is built into the business model.

  • Brian

    Well, if the city would set yellow light intervals at the speed which traffic moves, not what they think is standard, this may not have happened.
    The city won’t do that, though, since they need revenue from red light cameras. This is an example of how for profit companies benefit from people’s misfortune. Intersections are intentionally unsafe so revenue from camera tickets can be collected.

  • hollerhollerholler

    This is the same intersection where a cyclist got right-hooked and killed by a truck last year. http://gridchicago.com/2012/fatality-tracker-driver-turns-truck-right-in-front-of-cyclist-killing-him/

  • Anonymous

    How long should the yellow light last?

  • Was the driver driving a state vehicle? Why would the driver’s employer change the venue of the applicable court? And the headline is missing an “I”. There are 2 “i”s in idiot.

  • Standard where I live is 4-6 seconds depending on the number of lanes. Not enough for a cyclist to cross under a stale green most of the time, but enough to get almost all the way across if you are at the stop bar right as the light changes. And from my timing of the yellow in the video it wasn’t even a full 3 seconds, more like 2.75 or so.

  • Anne A

    A police officer I know, upon hearing about this incident, commented that having such short yellow lights makes NO sense from a safety perspective. He said he’d love to see a uniform minimum in the length of yellow lights between city and suburbs, as well as a requirement for all-red phases to stoplight cycles.

  • Anonymous

    none of this applies to this case, but you should not be cited if it was not your fault. eg, the person you hit ran a red light, etc.

  • Top Scientist

    Augusta is a major E/W biking street, all of its lights should be timed for cyclists. The US is in the dark ages of traffic planning.

  • Anonymous

    They state pretty openly that they don’t cover theft, loss or damage… My guess would be that they’ll wait until there isn’t any media attention to charge the person, or at least the first person that isn’t pregnant.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Construction Begins on Berteau Avenue Neighborhood Greenway

|
Berteau Avenue from Lincoln Avenue to Clark Street is en route to becoming Chicago’s first neighborhood greenway. The project resembles a “bike boulevard,” allowing two-way bike traffic where car traffic is one-way only and adding traffic calming elements like curb extensions at intersections. Construction started in late August, a couple of months later than projected. At many […]