Lisa Kuivinen, 20, Struck and Killed While Biking on Milwaukee Avenue

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Lisa Kuivinen. Photo: Facebook

We have been notified that Lisa Kuivinen identified as non-binary and preferred gender-neutral pronouns. The post has been edited accordingly.

Lisa Kuivinen, a 20-year-old art student, was fatally struck by the driver of an 18-wheel flatbed truck this morning while cycling on Milwaukee Avenue in West Town.

At about 8:15 a.m. Lisa was riding on the 800 block North Milwaukee, according to Officer Laura Amezaga from Police News Affairs. A report from DNAinfo indicates that the cyclist was heading southeast towards downtown. The collision occurred just southeast of Milwaukee’s Kennedy Expressway overpass.

Near the construction site for a transit-oriented development, Lisa was struck by a flatbed truck driver. Lisa was taken to Northwestern Hospital in critical condition and pronounced dead at the hospital, Amezaga said.

The driver, identified by police as 37-year-old Antonio Navarro from northwest-suburban Algonquin, stayed on the scene, according to Amezaga. Navarro has been ticketed for driving in a bike lane and failure to take due care for a bicyclist in the roadway, according to Police News Affairs. A traffic court hearing is scheduled for September 15 at 9 a.m.

DNAinfo reports that the truck is registered with Illinois Brick Co. and a person from the company declined to comment.

The Cook County medical examiner’s office identified Lisa as a resident of 3700 block of Wren Lane, Rolling Meadows. Lisa’s Facebook profile indicates that the cyclist was a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with an interest in animation.

The crash took place on a stretch of Milwaukee Avenue with protected bike lanes, including stretches where the bike lane is painted green and short segments protected by concrete curbs. However it appears the section of bike lane Lisa was riding on was not protected by curbs, parking, or flexible posts.

Moreover, the southeast-bound bike lane is blocked by fencing for the TOD construction site, forcing cyclists to merge into the travel lane. DNA reports that Lisa was approaching the fence when the driver struck the cyclist.

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Flowers have been left by crash site. Photo: John Greenfield

A photo posted on ABC7 shows what appears to be a white Specialized Allez road bike underneath the cab of the truck, according to a source.

According to DNA, a man named Brandon who was walking to work at the time witnessed the aftermath of the crash and ran to the cyclist. “[Lisa] was in really bad shape and I stood close to [them] and did not want to move [them] in case anything was broken,” he told DNA. “I kept saying, ‘Hold on, they are coming, they are coming.’ I’m terribly saddened by this but I’m glad [Lisa] wasn’t alone in [their] last moments.”

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago has issued the following statement:

We are shocked and saddened to learn of the tragic loss of a member of the SAIC family. Lisa Kuivinen was an undergraduate student studying in our BFA program. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Lisa’s family and friends during this very difficult time, and we have made counseling services available to students, faculty and staff.

Lisa was the third cyclist to be fatally struck in Chicago this year, following bike courier Blaine Klingenberg on June 15 and Divvy rider Virginia Murray on July 1. Like Lisa, Murray was struck by a flatbed truck driver.

This post will be updated as more information becomes available.

Fatality Tracker: 2016 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths
Pedestrian: 14 (seven were hit-and-run crashes)
Bicyclist: 3

Note: When commenting on articles about fatal crashes, please be mindful of the fact that family and friends of the victims may read the post. 

  • lykorian

    The city absolutely needs to be held accountable for their negligence in failing to protect both cyclists and motorists. The array of construction projects on Milwaukee have eaten away at the bike lane and often there is no adequate signage or markings provided to indicate where cyclists are entitled to ride. I ride this stretch every day and it’s terribly unsafe during commuting hours. This was entirely preventable, and a tragedy for both the dead cyclist and the driver of the vehicle who has to bear the guilt of this accident.

  • skyrefuge

    Except the collision occurred well before the construction area (see the ABC7 video report). And possibly *in* the bike lane, unless the truck driver pulled into the bike lane and dragged her bike there *after* he realized he had run her over.

    Photo found in the DNAInfo comments (her bike is under the front axle of the cab): https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Cp_QeYDWYAAgZPD.jpg:large

    So while it would be nice to use this tragedy to leverage the city into better enforcement/planning of construction zones, it looks like that would be an inappropriate link to make.

    (Unrelated: Root!)

  • lykorian

    Thanks for clarifying (and Root!)… one of the photos on a different story had a shot of the development at Elston/Milwaukee, so I mistakenly assumed it happened there, where the bike lane is eliminated entirely.

  • viachicago

    Its not just Milwaukee, it feels like virtually all streets. Try riding west on Grand after exiting at Navy Pier. Or north/south on Wells. Or on Lake. Or on…

  • rohmen

    It’s always dangerous to speculate on these type of crashes, but that photo makes it seem like the truck may have been merging to make a right, and hit her in the lane.

    I haven’t ridden that stretch of Milwaukee since they painted the lanes green, but I don’t recall dashed lines for that length of distance on the old lanes. In my experience, drivers see dashed lanes, and think it’s okay to start merging into the bike lane. If they don’t check their blind spots properly, needless accidents happen. No reason cars should be allowed to merge mid-block to make a right, and I expect it was done to a degree given how high traffic and tight Milwaukee is

  • Pat

    The reason its not protected there and there are dashed lines is because that’s a bus stop. So while it might be appropriate for a bus to cross them, its not really a turn lane. Perhaps a confusing distinction to make, but if you’re driving down blocks with bring green bike lanes, you should expect cyclists.

  • skyrefuge

    There has also been a lot of talk of “blind spots” in the commentary/speculation, but again, the bike is under the front axle of the cab. It’s hard to imagine any way that the bike would have ended up there unless the truck contacted it in a direct bike-rear/truck-front collision, in which case the only “blind spot” would have been seeing over the hood of his cab. It seems like people might be seeing “flatbed truck” and projecting the Virginia Murray incident onto this one?

    However, according to the ABC7 report (accuracy unknown!) the initial impact occurred approximately 100 feet before the truck’s final position, and this is near the point where the bike lane line changes from solid to dashed, so maybe there is something to your theory of the driver responding to the dashed lines.

  • rohmen

    My recollection is that they never use to put in dashed lines at bus stops (or at least not that far back), and instead the working assumption is that a bus will cross the lane when necessary to access the stop.

    Also, at some point it is ok for a car to cross the dashed line in the intersection, so I’d agree it’s an extremely confusing distinction (and one that’s dangerous IMHO). None of the above removes a driver’s need to check blinds spots and that the lane is clear, whether a cyclist is in the lane, etc., which exists on any roadway regardless of the markings obviously.

    Again, I hate speculating, and this is a pure tragedy, but when incidents like this occur it draws attention in my mind to what needs to be talked baout in fixed in road and bike lane design.

  • rohmen

    Well, and when I say “blind spot,” I mean that he could have merged without looking and then hit her from behind in the lane (it’s not hard to imagine a truck not stopping on a dime after making that mistake). I also do not say “blind spot” as some type of excuse for the driver, as this looks completely like a situation where he was overtaking her, and it looks like he was completely negligent in either not seeing her and/or not checking if she was there.

  • Pandanimaniac

    Lisa used THEY/THEM pronouns. Out of respect, please edit your article to their correct pronouns.

    Rest in Power, Lisa.

  • Cannot believe that they are gone. A personality like that will live on forever, but not seeing their shining face and infectious giggles this fall is what will make this even more real. Team Lime Green, Lisa.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    Thanks. Someone contacted us about this. The article will be edited later tonight.

  • Ada Wong

    I think I know her, I went to school with her, she graduated a year or 2 before I did.

  • My heart goes out to the family and friends of Lisa. My your death not be in vain; may the renewed attention and focus on motor vehicle bike crashes bring increased efforts at making our streets safer for all.

    A major missing piece of information I do not see so far is what the truck driver’s intentions were nor what his approximate speed was. Was he intending on going straight or was there an intention to turn at the next corner. I wonder too was there morning sun as a factor and was he fully awake. Things we may never know.

    It does not appear that the construction diversion had yet come into effect in this case. It is possible that Lisa was already consciously worried about the upcoming diversion. In any case, in my limited experience, it does appear that the city has still not come to grips with handling that reality for bikes. Separate new sidewalks, often with concrete protection, are required for pedestrians. Mostly it seems that bikes are left to their own devices.

    The concern about the early commencement of dashed lines is complicated by the existence of a curb cut for a multi-unit garage entrance. That is likely the reason rather than the bus-stop.

    The level of attention the city has given bike infrastructure in this stretch is laudable. Aside from the construction site, It is hard to imagine what more they could have done here. Lower the speed limit to 20mph? Remove more parking? Add more cement curbs? Ban through vehicles except for buses and bikes? Require motor vehicles to have the sensors and intelligence now appearing in automated driven cars? Require bikers to have transponders and vehicles receivers? Wherever motors and bikers share space, there will be crashes.

    Rest in peace Lisa.

  • Anne A

    My sympathy to Lisa’s family and friends.

  • AMFW

    This is Alderman Walter Burnett’s Ward. BTW.

    How did a developer even get away with obliterating a bike lane?

    He and his staff need to increase their advocacy for the safety of cyclists and pedestrians.

    Burnett and his staffers should become mindful of the importance of signage to protect pedestrians.

    And, it is the responsibility of Alderman Burnett to ensure the basics:

    So many crosswalks in his Ward are not even visible!

    One example: Ogden at Chicago, adjacent to Blue Line, invisible.

    Get to work Walter. It’s your job.

  • Jay Stefani

    The tragedy is amplified by how preventable this was. The bike lane is clearly marked — though perhaps a lane barrier would’ve helped. Construction isn’t a valid excuse because it should just makes safe drivers more aware. And as someone who’s represented people in trucking cases, there’s no such thing as a “blind spot” for a professional truck driver. They’re required to be aware, anticipate, look ahead, and use their mirrors. It’s inexcusable.

  • Mcass777

    This morning I saw police giving a ticket to a flatbed truck parked in the bike lane just south of the construction site. Not sure if it was for parking in the bike lane but workers were unloading materials to the building site while the driver was talking to 2 cops, one had a ticket book. The city giving a ticket to a guy delivering materials to a site (that has no access for a large flatbed) to a city approved construction site that includes fence bumping into a bike lane is silly! The city should have reviewed the site plan for material delivery, bike lane egress, and overall safety at a tight intersection. All summer this site has seen huge trucks loading materials next to the building, and sometimes, even over Milwaukee from Elston! A few mornings all traffic lights were obscured to those traveling southbound on Elston. For those biking south on Milwaukee, you are confronted with a green fence that blocks the bike lane and pushes the rider into the traffic lane, It is a tense area and you have to pay attention to your rear, side and front. Sad event here.

  • Mcass777

    BTW who decides when barriers are erected versus a fence? It seems every construction site downtown gets a covered, wall protected, sidewalk bumped into the street.

  • There is a document called “Rules and Regulations for Construction in the Public Way” that governs how contractors are supposed to design their street closures, which CDOT reviews, comments, and approves.

    http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/cdot/Construction%20Guidelines/2016/2016_CDOT_Rules_and_Regs_0311.pdf

  • Any lower speed limit has to be accompanied by a different design that encourages such a design, but also enforces it.

    I have thought about the idea to banning through vehicles (save for buses) from Augusta Boulevard to Chicago Avenue.

    When cities in the United States talk about “best practices” they are too often looking at each other, instead of the places where the “best practices” have actually led to fewer serious injuries and deaths, and greater numbers of people cycling and walking. I don’t think having a “Vision Zero Network” should have only 10 American cities. Which one of these cities is actually coming close to achieving VZ (zero traffic fatalities)?

    “Require bikers to have transponders and vehicles receivers?” No. Way. This isn’t a strategy used anywhere in a safe cycling city/country.

  • The city built a concrete-separated bike lane on this block (NW of Racine/Milwaukee) for the northbound side of Milwaukee only.

    The bus stop presumably caused CDOT to choose to not build a protected bike lane on the southbound side. But there’s a solution for that: bus stop islands. And Chicago has ONE now!

    Here’s a design in San Francisco: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesbondsv/10159840294/in/photolist-e3JGfn-yJdpSv-gtMQyf-dchfRZ-dYAt97-dYuKEi-avWmGF-5VvbZu-4C73XS

    Here’s a drawing I made of one that shows the full schematic of how they work: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesbondsv/6245994983/in/photolist-yJdpSv-gtMQyf-dchfRZ-e3JGfn-dYAt97-dYuKEi-avWmGF-5VvbZu-4C73XS

  • Mcass777

    I’d ask everyone to review section 4.4.1 on page 93 in the doc linked above. The city asks a lot of the permitee and not much was done.

  • Maybe temporary speed humps in the motor lane at construction sites. Motors have to take a hit at a construction diversion too. It can’t just be bikes. Especially on a major bike thruway like Milwaukee.

    As for transponders/receivers, I agree that that one is extreme. But just because it isn’t done now either voluntarily or required doesn’t mean that it can’t or shouldn’t be done.

    My guess is that the construction site took a greater space than they had too.

  • disqus_dV7GYYvnSr

    Thank you soooooooo much for using their correct pronouns.

  • UniqueUsername12

    RIP, Lisa.

    I am a (car) driver, and regularly turn from Elston onto Milwaukee heading southeast, so a little bit farther south from where the accident happened. There is a traffic light there, but most bikers ignore the signal and continue going straight on Milwaukee when the cars and bikes coming from Elston (who must turn left or right onto Milwaukee) have the light. Drives me crazy – very dangerous. I wish they’d put up a separate bike light at this intersection on Milwaukee headed southeast, just as there is one on the opposite side of the street headed northwest.

  • So what you are describing here has nothing to do with Lisa’s death. Why bring up the fact that some bicyclists don’t follow traffic signals when it had nothing to do with her death? Her death was the fault of the automobile driver.

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100 People Honored Lisa Kuivinen at Ghost Bike Installation Ceremony

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Nearly 100 family members, friends, and members of the cycling community turned out on Saturday to honor art student Lisa Kuivenen with a “ghost bike” installation ceremony at the site where Lisa was fatally struck last month. Ghost bikes are white-painted bicycles locked at crash sites to memorialize victims and raise awareness of the need for safer streets. […]