Right-Turning Cement Truck Driver Kills Young Woman on Bike

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The crash site at Cicero and Belmont.

28-year-old Portage Park resident Barbara “Barbie” Eno was killed on her bicycle last Thursday by a right-turning cement truck driver.

That morning, Eno had cycled to the Secretary of State’s office to replace a stolen ID and was returning to her home on the 4800 block of West Addison, DNAinfo reported. At about 10:35 am, she was biking north on the 3100 block of North Cicero, according to Office José Estrada from Police News Affairs. The 51-year-old male driver of the truck, a Kenworth W900, was also traveling northbound, Estrada said.

Barbie Eno. Photo: DNAinfo

After the driver turned right onto Belmont, “he heard a thump and heard several people screaming at him to stop,” Estrada said. The trucker then pulled over and attempted to render aid to Eno until the ambulance arrived, according to Estrada. Eno was transported to Illinois Masonic Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 11:31, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Eno, who was remembered by family and friends as a “sweetheart” who loved animals, was struck within a short distance of the apartment where she grew up as a child, DNA reported. Her older sister, Chrissy Eno told DNA that Barbie started bicycle commuting four years earlier. “She loved riding her bike all the time,” Chrissy said. “I always used to tell her to be careful.

The truck driver was not arrested or cited, Estrada said. Police are talking to witnesses and looking for surveillance video, DNA reported. Bike lawyer Brendan Kevenides (a Streetsblog Chicago sponsor) noted in a blog post that there are traffic cameras at Cicero and Belmont, so it’s likely that the police will be able to determine what caused the crash.

Kevenides wrote that this type of “right hook” crash is all too common:

Because cyclists are required by law to travel along the right side of the roadway, they may find themselves cut off by a careless driver traveling in the same direction who attempt to turn right without looking for bicycle traffic. All drivers own a duty of reasonable care to all roadway users, including people on bicycles.  For the right turning driver this duty requires: (1) Using a turn signal; (2) Turning right from the right lane; and (3) Looking right for bikes before starting to turn.

In another blog post, bike attorney Michael Keating (also a Streetsblog sponsor) said the federal, state, and city legislation makes it clear that it’s a truck driver’s responsibility to prevent this type of crash from happening:

  • 49 C.F.R. Section 383.111 of the Code of Federal Regulations requires a professional driver to recognize and avoid potential hazards at all times around a turning tractor truck.
  •  Section 11-1003.1 of the Illinois Motor Vehicle Code states that every driver of a vehicle must 1) always exercise care to avoid colliding with pedestrians and bicyclists, and 2) sound their horn to provide warning of an impending impact.
  • Section 9-16-020 of the Municipal Code of Chicago specifically provides that a motor vehicle should not turn right across the path of a bicyclist traveling in the same direction until it is “clear” and safe to make the turn. This is known as a “right hook.”

Kevenides added that other cities are looking at ways to prevent this all-too-common type of bike fatality. In the wake of several fatal truck-bike crashes, London is prohibiting the operation of large trucks in the city unless they have mirrors to improve the driver’s view of pedestrians and bike riders, as well as side guards to prevent people from getting crushed under the wheels. In 2008, Portland, Oregon, passed a non-binding resolution recommending that large trucks be outfitted with side guards. Last year, the U.S. National Transportation and Safety Board published recommendations that large trucks be outfitted with mirrors and other aids to compensate for blind spots, as well as side guards, to prevent pedestrian and bike fatalities.

Fatality Tracker: 2014 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths

Pedestrian: 16 (5 were hit-and-run crashes)
Bicyclist: 2 (1 was a hit-and-run crash)

  • rohmen

    Hopefully the video will shed some light on what happened here. I’ve witnessed more right-hook close calls when cycling around the City than I care to think about; including situations where the car/truck carelessly overtook the cyclist and turned right in front of them, and situations where the car/truck was already initiating a signaled turn and the cyclist kept going straight while likely in the car’s/truck’s blind spot.

    Doesn’t seem clear yet without the video which happened here, but, regardless of what the letter of the law says, i think it is worth every cyclist being aware of how blind spots work with regards to cars and trucks when approaching intersections.

    Though a blind spot DOES NOT excuse a truck hitting a cyclist, the realty is blind spots do exist, and while a blind spot may not have actually played any role here, I think it helps to know how to make sure you don’t get caught in one when approaching an intersection: : http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pdf/esv/esv19/05-0344-O.pdf

  • hello

    I usually assume motorists will right hook me, so when approaching an intersection I usually act accordingly.

  • madopal

    Also, the fact that a cyclist like her felt the need to cycle on Cicero is worth addressing. It’s definitely not a road I’d bike if I had any other choices. The neighborhood back streets are ok, but they tend to be narrow and hard to cross other major roads. I understand the desire to be visible as a cyclist, but certain times, safety would take precedence. I hate to think of how many more cyclists we might have to lose out here until CDOT helps us out.

    I’d love to help start a Go Portage Park and Go Belmont Cragin, like what they’re doing in Pilsen. How do we start something like that up here?

  • Jack Crowe

    I’ve heard the “skirts” that are on larger trailers could prevent a lot of these deaths, and earn a positive roi after one year in gas savings due to reducing drag. It was brought up after this incident: http://globalnews.ca/news/1345203/cyclist-killed-after-being-hit-by-truck-at-dartmouth-intersection/

  • Wewilliewinkleman

    Not only the blind spot, but sometimes the driver is in the right turn lane and the cyclist rides up along side the car in the narrow space between the car and the gutter. If I drive up to a light and there is a waiting cyclist, I hang back behind the cyclist even if there is room next to the cyclist to position my car for a right turn. Just use common sense.

    Legally it is the responsibility of the driver, however, I do believe cyclists need to take more ownership of their safety and not place themselves in risky situations. Even with insurance settlements and jail time for the driver still doesn’t negate the fact that when all is said and done, the cyclist is still dead..

  • madopal

    I’m also trying to rectify DNAInfo’s initial reports that he “clipped” her. Not sure what that’s supposed to mean.

    From DNAInfo:
    “She was riding her bike northbound on Cicero Avenue when a cement truck
    turning right onto Belmont Avenue clipped her about 10:35 a.m., police
    and witnesses said.”

  • Fred

    A few years ago I nearly assaulted a cab driver after he sped past me, turned right, then stopped directly in the bike lane in Streeterville. Luckily I was able to stop and go around without incident, but looking back I really wish I had put my bike lock through his windshield. The stream of filth I hurled at the driver afterward could not have been good for city tourism.

  • It’s unclear why she was riding on Cicero, since taking Milwaukee to Addison would have been the most direct route from downtown to her home. As in the Hector Avalos case, where the crash happened away from the logical direct route to the cyclist’s known destination, it’s possible that their was an additional stop the cyclist needed to make along the way.

    CDOT will be doing TDM programs in three more communities, so you could try contacting 311 and your alderman to put in a request.

  • Anne A

    I’m aware of at least 5 right hook crashes in Chicago in the last year (and others in previous years) involving big trucks and cyclists, most of which resulted in significant injury or death – good reasons for more protection.

    Knowledge of these situations makes me more cautious around big trucks. If I have any doubt about a possible right hook situation, I will brake and wait – staying well back from the corner to allow for the truck’s wide swing.

  • Jack Crowe

    Looks like we’re a few weeks into a 90 day period for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to respond to

  • madopal

    It sounded like she was coming back from getting an ID, and my assumption was she was hitting the DMV at Diversey & Cicero.

    From DNAInfo:
    “Barbie Eno was on her way back from the Secretary of State’s
    office Thursday morning with a new ID card, as hers had been stolen the day before, her sister said.”

    And even if she rode the back neighborhoods between that and her house, she would have had a lot of weirdness with the one way streets & uncontrolled crossings from Diversey up to Addison just east of Cicero. It could have been done, but I think cyclists like us take for granted people’s ability to wander neighborhoods and not get lost. I pretty much assume when I see a lone wolf rider on a busy street that it’s the only way they know to get from point A to point B.

  • I see now that there’s a Secretary of State’s office branch at 4632 West Diversey, so it’s likely she went there instead of downtown. I’ve edited the article accordingly.

  • markcwells

    I got hit by a cab in Key West in a similar situation. Actually, I hit the cab as it made a right turn in front of me. No injuries fortunately, but I can see the danger.

  • markcwells

    It was an unmarked intersection. I was riding alongside the cab and never noticed a turn signal. It’s possible he used a signal and I couldn’t see it, but it was dark, so I think I would have noticed the front signal at least. I may have been in his blind spot. I don’t ride very often, especially in heavy traffic.

  • Anne A

    In a case like this, where she grew up in the neighborhood, I’d assume that difficult crossings of major streets may be why she chose Cicero. Kostner works for some of them, but it’s interrupted by a rail line.

    In large areas of the far south side, there are many places where the major streets with big trucks are the only streets that go through between neighborhoods, or across rail lines, expressways, waterways or other barriers. I know that’s true on parts of the NW side.

  • oooBooo

    Right hooks happen when the bicycle rider is gutter passing, when there is a bike lane that allows for passing, and when the motorist passed the bicyclist just before the turn.

    The first is simple, don’t gutter pass, the second is one of my usual objections to bike lanes and how their design creates hazards for novices, and the last one due to a variety of motorist behaviors and beliefs.

    The first condition would be clearly the bicycle rider’s fault prior to the recent (and IMO misguided) changes in the vehicle code. With the changes it would take a court to decide. I personally would still fault the gutter passer, but my guess is that motorists will now be considered at fault, but only on the traffic ticket level.

    Second, the government is to blame for the poor road design, but the government is rarely responsible so it would probably fault the motorist. It’s one of the reasons I dislike bike lanes. They say ‘safe to pass’ but it isn’t. A wide curb lane does not send that message.

    The third one the motorist knows the bicyclist is there but refuses to wait a couple seconds. Mirrors are irrelevant because the motorist passes the bicyclist prior to turning.

    Nothing is going to stop that level of stupid except education. Sadly it
    has to be done one driver at a time.

    A very similar thing to the driver passing and turning right immediately Is the driver who passes a left turning bicyclist on the left. Had this happen to me a couple days ago. Driver actually sped up after I signaled.

  • oooBooo

    Fixing the alternating one way streets and other nonsense on side streets to create bike routes would be far better than bike lanes on arterial roads for everyone.

    I got sick of going into neighborhoods, subdivisions, etc only to end up coming back out close to where I went in. Hard to get lost in Chicago, but the one way streets and intentional dead ends and speed humps etc just add to making it easier to ride the arterial roads.

  • Jim Mitchell

    One problem with blind spots is that they are artificially enlarged by drivers who were never taught properly to set their rear view mirrors. I am not bragging; that criticism applies to me, as I only learned this a year ago, after driving for 30+ years. But have a look at the linked article; after implementing this technique, and getting used to using all my mirrors correctly, I’ve greatly enhanced my rear-quarter vision … and my confidence that I won’t right-hook anybody: http://www.wikihow.com/Set-Rear%E2%80%90View-Mirrors-to-Eliminate-Blind-Spots

  • madopal

    I agree, Anne, but in this case, there are no natural obstacles from Diversey to Addison other than one way streets and uncontrolled crossings. Her house is west of the train tracks, as is the DMV. She could have taken Kilpatrick, but it’s one way northbound, and it’s got a weird jog at Belmont. So if she came down another way, she might not have been aware of the return one way route.

    Look at the ridiculousness Google suggests for biking:

    Google seems to do this a lot for me when I ask it where to bike on the NW side. The routes make NO sense.

    Also, if she didn’t switch to a bike route, Google driving directions just suggests Cicero, and since it’s the most direct route, I can see someone who’s not savvy to finding weird routes just taking it.

  • Ryan

    I really wish you did Fred. Then he would’ve backed up to do a 3 point turn just to smear your skull on the cement. Try flipping someone off when your brain is oozing down the storm drain.


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