Hit-and-Run Driver Killed Cyclist Aimer Robledo on New Year’s Day

robledo
Aimer Robledo

2015 had a tragic start for the family of Aimer Robledo, a Humboldt Park man who was killed by a hit-and-run driver as he rode his bike home in the early hours of New Year’s Day.

Robledo, 30, worked in construction and catering, and also DJed Mexican music at parties. On New Year’s Eve, he threw a party at his home on the 1400 block of North Avers, where he lived with other family members, DNAinfo reported.

At about 1:30 a.m., as the party was ending, nephew Raphael Hernandez told DNA that Robledo decided to ride his bike to go visit a friend. Hernandez added that his uncle hadn’t been drinking prior to leaving his party. After wishing the friend a happy New Year, Robledo stopped nearby to visit his own wife and two daughters, ages eight and nine, who lived separately from him. 

Around 2:40 a.m., Robledo was riding home from his wife’s house when the driver of a dark-colored minivan struck him under a railroad viaduct on the 4700 block of West Division, according to Officer Veejay Zala from Police News Affairs. This industrial stretch of Division has wide lanes and few intersections, which encourages speeding.

Robledo suffered a head injury but was still breathing when the ambulance arrived, Hernandez told DNA. Robledo was transported to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 3:37 a.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.


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The crash site from the driver’s perspective. 

The driver has not yet been identified. Major Accidents is investigating the case. Hernandez told DNA he received a call from the police notifying him that a damaged van was abandoned in Lakeview, but they were not certain if it is the same vehicle from the crash.

According to bike lawyer Brendan Kevenides (a Streetsblog sponsor), there are private security cameras along the block where Robledo was struck. Kevenides said police should be able to recover images of the van if they act quickly.

Robledo’s relatives described him as a fun-loving man who worked hard to support his children. Hernandez told DNA his uncle rarely drove, and instead rode his bicycle everywhere. “I just don’t know how someone is even capable of taking a human life and not taking responsibility.”

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    Its fairly obvious street lighting is poor here. It would serve as a reminder to cyclists to have lights, reflectors and don’t wear all dark clothing at night. Do everything you can to be seen, even in well lit areas. Probably a new years drunk driver and I sincerely hope the police find him.

  • Even with all those things, nothing about the street design on this particular block (as shown in the Street View image) shows a place where motorists and bicyclists should be using the same part of the roadway. There’s no “out”. It’s a bunch of walls.

  • Karen Kaz

    I just hate that a relatively minor mistake can lead to a cyclist getting killed. I know no one’s intentionally blaming the victim here, but until all drivers take the responsibility of driving a 2000+lb vehicle to heart, this will always happen. Until we get better, safer infrastructure that helps encourage good, safe driving (AND biking!), this will keep happening.

    Sometimes bike light batteries die while you’re riding – it shouldn’t cost you your life. Sometimes your warmest/most appropriate clothes for that particular day are dark-colored – it shouldn’t cost you your life. Sometimes you have to ride on streets with poor lighting or in weather that creates poor visibility – it shouldn’t cost you your life.

    As both a cyclist and a driver I share your feelings that cyclists “should” make themselves as visible as possible but I would be careful because those statements can be easily construed as letting drivers off the hook. I am a careful, safe cyclist, but my snow pants are black and my coat is grey, and I forgot to charge my bike lights after arriving at work this morning. I hope this doesn’t cost me my life getting home tonight.

    (Luckily, my route is almost all bike lanes and at least my helmet is bright white, and I have been charging my lights for about 40 minutes; hoping this will get me home.)

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    And that’s why better lighting is essential and drunk driving and leaving the scene laws shouod have more teeth in this state.

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    I consider myself a considerate and safe driver. 30+ years of 95% city driving in Chicago, no tickets, no accidents. But I’ve had several near misses with cyclists no lights & dark clothing. It shouldnt cost a life if batteries run out. But all road users should have safe and road worthy vehicles. I wouldnt drive a car after dark if my lights didnt work. I see a lot of bikes with no rear fender and hence no place to attach a simple reflector. Choose to wear dark clothing on a dark stretch of road with no light, have a back up plan to carry some reflective strips that can attach to your outerwear. Even the safest drivers and the best designed streets cant compensate for the lack of visual cues. When I can see a bike up ahead with a light sooner, I can get ready to allow greater space – and – watch for other vehicles and pedestrians at the same time. If that light or a reflector or a light colored piece of clothing can give me a few additional seconds or a few additional feet to recalculate and compensate, why wouldn’t you want to do that?

  • tooter turtle

    I don’t believe we know if the cyclist was visible or not. All we do know is that the driver who killed him is a criminal who fled the scene.
    We have drivers who get so drunk that they drive the wrong way on expressways. No amount of lighting, reflective vests, etc. can protect us from that insanity.

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    And the saddest is the fact that road fatalities between midnight and 5 am are more likely than not are alcohol related and no amount of road diets or traffic cams or bike lanes are going to change that fact. But that doesn’t mean we cant have these things and encourage more visable biking.

  • Karen Kaz

    I hear you, and I agree in a lot of ways. I absolutely wish all cyclists had working lights, and I silently curse to myself when I see people riding without them at night. But expecting perfect behavior from humans is setting yourself up for failure. I’ve gotten home from a trip to find my rear blinky light died while I was riding – how am I supposed to know that? Reflectors and reflective strips get covered in road grime or snow and stop reflecting (and they require a light shining on them from the right angle to really do much), they get lost, people unintentionally forget to bring/wear them.

    And I see plenty of cars driving with a burned out headlight, burned out taillights, malfunctioning brake lights, forgetting to put headlights on, not cleaning snow off their lights, not using turn signals. It happens all the time. People aren’t perfect.

    What I’m asking for is two-fold. 1. (And I know this first one rankles people’s sense of “fairness”) that we in our words be more forgiving/use less “should” language to the more vulnerable road users and demand more responsibility and accountability from the less vulnerable ones. 2. That we try to design and implement infrastructure that has built-in tolerances and helps reinforce safer behavior without the users having to think about it, so that our all-too-human imperfections don’t result in so many people getting maimed or killed.

  • Fred

    I don’t get why it is OK to advocate for defensive driving, but not defensive cycling/walking. When I ride, I choose to wear a helmet and always keep lights on my bike in case I get caught in the dark. While walking, I look both ways before crossing the street and I don’t walk in the street when there is perfectly good sidewalk. I don’t do these because it is the law; I do this because I have the will to survive. This is basic human instinct.

    You ask “why should a vulnerable user get punished for making a little mistake?” I ask “why should a driver get punished for a vulnerable user not using basic human survival instinct?”

  • Anne A

    It is possible to attach a rear light to a seatpost, rear rack, backpack, or some jackets.

  • Anne A

    In winter, I often use 2 headlights and 2 tail lights – 1 of each mounted on my helmet and 1 of each mounted on my bike. It gives me more visibility and, if batteries on one die during a ride, the other is usually still working.

  • Fred

    You seem to believe that you have the right to ride your bike no matter what the conditions are.

    Light battery died while riding? No biggie.
    Only own dark/gray clothes? Not a problem.
    Street lighting is poor on your route? What’s the worry?
    Weather has made visibility almost nothing? Must forge ahead!
    Forgot to charge my light? Oh well.

    Maybe when these things happen you should consider rectifying the problem before riding.

    If you were to get struck by a driver who made the simple mistake of forgetting to turn their headlights on, you would be screaming bloody murder. But if your light dies, you bear no responsibility.

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    I agree bikers and pedestrians are more vulnerable. However, I can get ticketed and fined for my lack of working equipment.

    But to demand less of one road user is simply wrong. Especially when a biker can significantly add to their vulnerability by not using equipment that can save their lives from death or serious injury.

    And to fluff it off by stating that users shouldn’t have to think how they use the road is incredible. Everyone using the road should be thinking about it, non-stop.

    All it takes is a second of not thinking. I’ve seen bikers topple over because of a pothole. That light may give me a chance to avoid an accident. It may help me see someone riding the wrong way. It may help me see someone doing an Idaho stop.

    Its not about fairness. If I hit a biker and that biker was doing something wrong or not properly equipped, I can’t in good conscious say to myself, ahhhh biker’s fault and absolve myself of the guilt.

    If you choose to ride in conditions that are less ideal for bikers, at night, in the snow, in the rain, its paramount that you do your part to be seen.

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