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IDOT Truck Driver Injured Pregnant Divvy Rider on Augusta Last Week

1:30 PM CDT on September 12, 2013

POV shots where Divvy rider was hit by IDOT truck driver

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."

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