Emily Fredbloom Dies After Taxi Crash on the LaSalle Street Speedway


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The 1400 block of North LaSalle, where Emily Fredbloom was struck.

Last Friday, Emily Fredbloom, 26, died from injuries sustained in late August, when she was struck by a cab driver while crossing LaSalle Street in Old Town.

On the Near North Side, LaSalle is a wide, five-lane street, which encourages speeding by drivers, and creates wide crossing distances for pedestrians. These issues were, or may have been, factors in a several recent serious crashes on this stretch of LaSalle.

On March 23, 2012, around 2:30 a.m., law student Jesse Bradley, 32, was crossing LaSalle westbound at Division Street (1200 North). Southbound motorist Bianca Garcia fatally struck him and fled the scene. Witnesses said she driving at a high rate of speed, and tests found she was intoxicated. Last July, Garcia was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Last Tuesday, September 16, around 4:50 a.m., a 23-year-old man was attempting to cross LaSalle at Chicago Avenue (800 North). Witnesses said the man “darted” across the street and was hit by a southbound female motorist, according to police. The man was critically injured and the driver was not cited.

In the most recent case, Fredbloom, a resident of south-suburban Lansing, was trying to cross westbound on the 1400 block of North LaSalle on Saturday, August 30, around 2:05 a.m., according to Officer Janel Sedovic from News Affairs. Witnesses say Fredbloom, who worked at a nurse at Northwestern Hospital, “bolted out into the street,” according to Sedovic.

Fredbloom was struck by a northbound cab driver, Sedovic said. The driver, a 51-year-old man, was cited for failure to exercise due care for a pedestrian in the roadway, and failure to reduce speed to avoid a crash.

Fredbloom was taken to Northwestern, where she was pronounced dead last Friday at 4:29 p.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. An autopsy performed Sunday found that she died from complications that arose from injuries sustained in the crash.

Better enforcement of the 30 mph speed limit, along with reconfiguring LaSalle to calm traffic and make it easier to cross the street, could help prevent these kind of tragedies in the future.

Fatality Tracker: 2014 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths
Pedestrian: 21 (6 were hit-and-run crashes)
Bicyclist: 7 (1 was a hit-and-run crash)

  • Bart

    What, specifically, could be done and how in order to make LaSalle safer to cross? What are the actionable steps?

  • Good question. Since LaSalle isn’t an IDOT-jurisdiction road, there are many options. So far IDOT has not permitted CDOT to install protected bike lanes on its streets, and has generally been slow to embrace traffic calming measures.

    Speed cameras, high-visibility crosswalks, pedestrian islands, and curb extensions might be fairly easy to implement. If traffic volumes allow, a 5-to-3 road diet with protected bike lanes, similar to what was proposed on Milwaukee in Gladstone Park, would be ideal.

  • Zach

    Depending on the amount of traffic that LaSalle sees, a road diet could help slow down traffic. I believe LaSalle operates as 3 lanes inbound / 2 lanes + parking Outbound in the morning and reverses that setup during evening rush hour.

    When I worked on that area, LaSalle was never really congested during the rush hour periods. I could see a road diet help on LaSalle north of Chicago.

    Additionally, I dont think there is much retail on LaSalle and the side walks are large which I think aids in making LaSalle feel separated from pedestrians.

    That’s just my two cents..

  • oh_yeaaa

    They could begin by removing the trees from the median so drivers have more time to see pedestrians entering the crosswalk from the other side of the street. There are also speed cameras all over Chicago now. Sounds like LaSalle needs to be added to the list of streets that need one!

  • For the last few weeks I have not been able to bike (due to small surgery), so I have been walking and taking CTA. As a result I have experienced first-hand how scary, and often impossible it is to have to cross streets anywhere in this town. SOVs, mostly speeding, do not give a damn about any of the signs, show nothing but contempt to pedestrians, and I think nothing short of some type of physical restraint is going to change them. Why should they? The speed limit of 35 MPH on most main streets is hardly enforced, and people who mow down pedestrians get off with a slap on the wrist, unless they were found to be roaring drunk. If there are lights at the crosswalk, the times to cross are mostly inadequate for people whose mobility is impaired. Chicago is overdue for a drastic lowering of the speed limits, a huge increase in enforcement (cameras—YES) with serious consequences for violations, and a good dose of civic re-education about the value of life.

  • lindsaybanks

    I thought that any street without a posted speed limit sign was 30 mph (not 35). Anyone know? I’m In the same boat, haven’t biked since I was 8 1/2 months pregnant! Three weeks without a bike is torture! :) As is being ridiculously pregnant and trying to do anything.

  • shacker2762

    I get that many people are quick to blame motorists since they usually win out in a motorist-pedestrian clash but there are many incidents where pedestrians are to blame. They, too, must exercise due diligence. Motor vehicles cannot stop on a dime.

    This happened at 2:00am on a Saturday in August. In and around Downtown Chicago, while not as bad as Sunday mornings, that’s still prime time for fast traffic with drunks and taxi cabs jockeying for position. Fred bloom was probably just tired just getting off work (and nursing is a very tiring job) but pedestrians *have* to pay attention.

  • High_n_Dry

    The only reason cars have to attempt to “stop on a dime” at crosswalks is due to the high sped limits on these roads. 20 MPH should be the speed limit city-wide, this is the only way we will stop pedestrian (and motorists/ passenger) deaths on city roads.

  • tooch

    20mph for bikes and trains too?

  • High_n_Dry

    Yes, for bikes, we are after all supposed to abide by traffic laws. If joggers want to get above 20 MPH, they are welcome to and I applaud them.
    Trains – let’s try to get freight trains UP to 20 MPH then we can talk. Otherwise the “do not cross” gates should keep *most* people out the way of the Brown line and Metra trains.

  • Fred

    Redesigning LSD to not be a racetrack would also make LaSalle safer. Drivers doing 70mph southbound on LSD end up going too fast for conditions after exiting at LaSalle.

  • Correct, the default speed limit in Chicago and Illinois is 30 mph.

  • alexfrancisburchard

    I concur, I went for a walk through the loop the other evening, and I can’t count how many red lights I saw run. I want to see red light cameras at every single downtown intersection. PReferably every intersection in the city, but we can start with the extremely pedestrian dense sections of the loop, south loop, west loop, and the near north neighborhoods.

  • I stand corrected (although some streets like Western have 35 posted on the North side). However, few actually drive 30…

  • Guest

    Ideally cars should not put themselves in a position where someone can jump out behind them and they cannot stop in time. Realistically however, that is unlikely without lower speed limits.

  • Well, Ideally cars should not put themselves in a position where someone can jump out behind them and they cannot stop in time. Realistically however, that is unlikely without lower speed limits.

  • When bikes kill tens of thousands of people a year, then we can talk about speed limits for cyclists.

  • cjlane

    “some streets like Western have 35 posted on the North side”

    Where? I’ve never seen it on Western.

  • cjlane

    LaSalle is a *great* candidate for a real, enforced, bus lane. Or a streetcar.

  • I recall seeing one while riding south from Evanston—Next time I ride will take a photo. But now you’re making me question whether it was on Cicero around Lincolnwood (where I saw it for sure); Cicero is also IL50, where I presume IDOT sets the limit rather than the city? My original point was that, posted or not, people drive much faster than any speed limit here.

  • cjlane

    Definitely seen it on Cicero.

    Thought more about Western (did *not* go so far as to check streetview) and still can’t think where on the northside. Perhaps south of the Ike on either or both of Western and Ashland, tho.

  • Colleen

    Is there a way to pull together as a group of advocates to work on this issue? Does such a group already exist?

  • Advocating on issues like this is a big part of why Streetsblog exists. Other groups currently working on local pedestrian safety issues include the Active Transportation Alliance and the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists. If you want to get involved, I suggest contacting Active Trans’ Jason Jenkins at jason[at]activetrans.org, 312-427-3325.

  • Trees actually have a traffic calming effect because they visually narrow the driver’s perception of what’s ahead. If you can’t see what’s ahead then you slow down. The trees are already “removed” on the approach to the left-turn lanes.

  • I think the main issue is speeding. When pedestrians are hit at high speeds their likelihood of drying increases dramatically. One nearly free way of adjusting the speed on a long, wide stretch of LaSalle Street is to adjust signal timing and eliminate any “green waves” that may exist that allow motorists to travel at greater than the speed limit between any two signals between, let’s say, Wacker, and Clark Street.

  • you were always so nice to me emily, unlike all the snobbies, maybe because you were the most beautiful, you took me under your wing angellically, and although you’re now gone and i cannot strive to win your heart, at least you’re elsewhere being angellic, using your gatefold wings taking others under your arms

  • L. Fredbloom

    For the record, Emily Fredbloom did not “bolt” out in front of the speeding taxi. She was walking in the crosswalk, eastbound across LaSalle but didn’t make it across before the light changed as many pedestrians to this very day are not able to do. The faulty police report was based on one so called witness who was coming home from the bars. The witness’ report directly contradicts existing video of the accident that surfaced later. According to the judge who saw the video, the driver had plenty of opportunity to avoid the pedestrian and should have been able to see her and take action had he been paying attention. To this very day, that stretch may still be a “speedway”, the light at LaSalle and Wells is still too short to allow pedestrians to cross safely and it is the only light on that stretch that does not have a timed delay between the East/West red light and the North/South green light. Pedestrians-be aware, drivers -pay attention to the road, witnesses-tell the truth, police-do a better job investigating and reporting, and to the city…. please check into the intersection and the speed on LaSalle for the good of all.

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