Virginia Murray, 25, Fatally Struck While Riding a Divvy Bike in Avondale

Virginia Murray

Virginia Murray, 25, was fatally struck by a truck driver this morning while riding a Divvy bike at Belmont Avenue and Sacramento Avenue in Avondale, according to police. The case appears to be the first fatal crash involving a bike-share user in the U.S.

At about 9:00 a.m. Murray and the driver of a 2001 Chevrolet flatbed truck were both traveling northbound on Sacramento, according to Officer Kevin Quaid from Police News Affairs. At Belmont, the driver made a right turn to head eastbound, Quaid said. “They collided, causing severe injury to the bicyclist,” the crash report reads.

Murray, of the1200 block of North Marion Court in Wicker Park, was rushed to Illinois Masonic Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 9:58 a.m.

So far the driver has received no traffic citations or criminal charges, Quaid said. Major Accidents is investigating. According to ABC, there is security camera video of the crash that shows the driver striking Murray. According to ABC, the driver works for a nearby flooring company AB Hardwood Flooring.

According to Murray’s LinkedIn profile, she had been working at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, the Divvy sponsor, since 2013, most recently as a lead marketing communications consultant. A spokeswoman for the company provided this statement:

Friday’s fatal collision is a tragedy and we join Divvy and the Chicago Department of Transportation in offering our condolences to the Murray family. This touches many of us personally, as until a few weeks ago Ginny Murray worked at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois. She was an avid Divvy supporter, a wonderful employee and a special person. She will be missed.

The Chicago Department of Transportation and Divvy provided this statement: “This morning a cyclist was involved in a fatal collision with a truck [driver] on the Northwest Side. Divvy and the City of Chicago express our deepest condolences to the rider’s family and loved ones.” A source confirmed that this was the first fatality involving a Divvy user since the system launched in June 2013. Almost 8 million rides were taken during that time.

Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 7.48.31 PM
Looking north on Sacramento at Belmont. Image: Google Maps

The North American Bikeshare Association released this statement today in response to the fatal crash:  

This morning, a young woman using bikeshare in Chicago was involved in a fatal crash. The North American Bikeshare Association joins Divvy and the Chicago Department of Transportation in expressing our sincere sympathies and deepest condolences to her loved ones and the community impacted by this great loss.

Today marks a tragic milestone we wished would never come. 

This is the first time that we’ve lost someone from our bikeshare community in the eight years that bikeshare has operated in the United States. Today’s loss extends beyond Chicago and into the hearts and homes across the nation.

This appears to be the second case of a bike-share rider being critically or fatally injured in Chicago. On Sunday, November 22, 2014, at about 2:50 a.m. medical student Travis Persaud was struck by two different drivers while riding a Divvy bike on Lake Shore Drive. He suffered a broken leg and a dislocated shoulder, and was placed in a medically induced coma. Family members believed he had been trying to cross Lake Shore Drive on his way home. Persaud’s current medical condition is unknown.

Nationally, bike-share has had a strong safety record. A study released in March by the Mineta Transportation Institute found that there had been zero fatalities among U.S. systems since the first one debuted in Tulsa in 2007. Murray appears to be the person to be fatally injured while using bike-share in the U.S.

In addition to Murray’s case, we also received reports today of two bike riders being struck and injured. A male bike courier was hit yesterday by a driver at Grand Avenue and Peshtigo Court in Streeterville yesterday, according to a friend of the man. The messenger was hospitalized and was expected to be released in the near future.

We also received a report of a female bike rider being struck and seriously injured by a driver today around 1 p.m. near Wabansia Avenue and Damen Avenue in Bucktown. Police News Affairs did not have information about either of these injury crashes. We’ll provide updates as we learn more about these cases.

Our thoughts are with Murray’s family and friends, as well as the crash survivors. Everyone, please be careful out there.

Fatality Tracker: 2016 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths
Pedestrian: 13 (seven were hit-and-run crashes)
Bicyclist: 2

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

  • Avondale is an awful area to bike in or be a pedestrian in. So many poorly maintained underpasses and construction zones where there is obviously no consideration for anything but cars.

    It’s a shame because that area has nice things to do like Revolution, Pork Shoppe, and Honey Butter Fried Chicken. But every time I go there I feel like I’m going to get hit, whether I take transit or bike.

  • I keep trying to figure out a way to bike from Wilson/Pulaski to Brands Park (my kid’s in summer camp there this year) that doesn’t involve going straight down Elston.

    If I could find a quiet side streets route I could let her ride her bike while I walk, but there doesn’t appear to actually be one that isn’t either (a) terrifying or (b) a massively longer distance.

  • ohsweetnothing

    Yeah unfortunately all of the “quiet streets” I know and bike on in Avondale are used as cut throughs for speeding vehicles as well. It can be pretty harrowing.

  • ohsweetnothing

    100% agree. The entire community area needs a complete rethink/redesign of its streets. Avondale is also a textbook example of an expressway ruining the urban fabric.

  • ev_one

    No sinusoidal speed humps? The seem to work somewhat in Edgewater.

  • Chicagoan

    I’d add on to this all with Parachute, will probably be Michelin-listed one day.

  • vprima

    Areas near expressway on and off ramps seem particularly dangerous. The highway support structures obstruct views, and motorists seem to speed, perhaps due to the higher speed allowed on the highway.

  • David P.

    Either “…a cyclist was involved in a fatal collision with a truck driver…”…a bicycle was involved in a fatal collision with a truck…” There was a human in that truck, too.

  • vprima

    Perhaps my memory is selective, but it seems like a large percentage of bike deaths in Chicago are caused by roll overs from trucks or heavy passenger vehicles, like tour buses. In these cases, helmets are useless when a cyclist falls or is hooked by the rear tires of a truck that makes a wide turn.

  • Sterling Archer

    This is very saddening. Divvy, and bike-share everywhere, seemed to have a great safety track record but sadly bad street design ended up winning out in this case.

  • Chicagoan

    They definitely work in Edgewater, if people don’t stop, their baby’s bumper is going to get scratched…and bad.

  • Cristine

    There’s also Wilson to California Ave.

  • Ah yeah, and it already has a Michelin star.

  • It’s so deceptive because part of Elston is great to bike on and suddenly it turns into a terrifying construction death trap. This is all really scary because I had a close call on Elston recently.

  • Cristine

    More often, it seems, there’s more bus/truck incidents, and ‘near-car’ incidents.

  • Cristine

    Yes, the spots where the road suddenly has a huge dipping edge from the rectangle of construction come up so quickly, and many times without any signs around, and these are on both busy and side-streets.

  • yowsuh123

    My only guess here is the bicyclist was in the driver’s blind spot as he made a right turn, or he tried to beat the cyclist to the intersection to make a right turn.

  • lindsaybanks

    I hope that they check the driver’s phone record and look in the video to see if he had his turn signal on. My closest brush with death was a Mack truck making a right turn while I was in the bike lane on desplaines. The driver did not use his turn signal and obviously wasn’t checking his mirrors because I had been coming up from a way back (before getting into his blind spot) because car traffic was stopped and I was traveling at a good clip. When I saw the front wheel of his truck (at my shoulder) start to turn, there was no way I could turn fast enough or brake. I screamed bloody murder, he had his windows open, and he stopped. I got lucky. I also damaged my vocal cords and lost my voice, but I’ll take that any day.

  • Anonymous

    So terrible- quick right turns for trucks & cyclists are death traps! Almost had an accident happen to me on Harlem with a van turning right who barely saw me, but I stopped in just enough time.. Another time a truck honked approaching from behind- There was enough space, but it freaked me out so much, I rammed my bike into the curb I was already close to & worse could have happened if I jilted from the curb. Lately, I’m very annoyed by drivers with the nerve to pull up close to cyclists going thru intersections. My Uber driver did this once- it was sickening, and I got a refund for reporting it!

  • ohsweetnothing

    Hi John, is it fair to characterize this as a “right hook” collision? The description sounds like it, but I want to be sure I’m reading correctly.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    It appears that this was a right-hook crash. Keating Law Offices (a Streetsblog sponsor) has an explanation on their blog:

  • al_langevin

    So what’s your point, “In these cases, helmets are useless”? People need to stop with the idiotic let’s not wear helmet posts. Divvy should have never been allowed to rent bikes without helmets. That was a brainfart on the city’s part.

    It’s just plain dumb when people don’t wear helmets. The same idiots argue seatbelts are dangerous too. Show me one seatbelt injury and I’ll show you 1000x more people who flew out of cars and got killed.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    Folks, this post is not an appropriate place for a helmet debate. Further comments along these line will be deleted. Thanks.

  • What if there was a way the driver could have started the braking ¾ of a second sooner and stopped 30 – 40 feet shorter. There is. Sad that the authorities refuse to teach the safer left foot braking method and ban right foot braking on automatic cars.

  • Bernd

    From the link:

    “While stopped, 25-year old Virginia Murray, rode up to the right side of the truck between the curb and the truck itself.”

    That is not a classic right hook. A right hook is where the motorist passes the bicyclist and turns right across the bicyclist’s path.

    What is described here is a newbie mistake. The kind of mistake that is made when vehicular bicycling is not taught and the focus is on getting people into a bicycling with a false sense of security instead educated on the basics not to harmed.

    NEVER and I mean NEVER pass a truck in the gutter (or even the bike lane). The state of Illinois erred gravely in making that legal for bicyclists because too many people equate legal with safe.

  • Vooch

    or driving a safe speed

  • scoot777

    From the link:

    “Ms. Murray’s path was exactly the one that a Chicago bicyclist should follow…
    Illinois law requires bicyclists to ride as close as possible to the right-hand curb in situations like this.”

    But the text of the law, which is reproduced later, reads as follows:
    Sec. 11-1505. Position of bicycles
    Any person operating a bicycle or motorized pedal cycle upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride as close as practicable and safe to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under the following situations: …
    4. When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.

    The Keating blog is therefore incorrect. Illinois law does not require bicyclists to hug the curb and ride into this type of death trap. The most prudent tactic, when approaching this situation, is to stay in the middle of the lane behind the truck.

  • Rhonda Smathers

    My heart hurts for this woman and her family. I’ve watched the video, and the situation is horribly familiar. If the street had been designed to provide safe space for all road users, perhaps she would still be alive today.

  • Charlie

    The rider was wearing a helmet, FYI.

  • JacobEPeters

    This is along the bike route that I take in order to avoid multiple unsafe intersections in this area. Partly because this route rarely has any large trucks on it, and if you take Henderson from California to Sacramento, the intersection with Elston is a calm 4 way stop. I’ve called it my “safe-cut” because I have traded a 6 way intersection & a highway entrance/exit ramp for this single traffic light. It breaks my heart that this turned out to be the first bike share fatality location.

  • Jeff Gio

    As we all know

  • Jeff Gio

    I’m always watching the tires too – I’m always on edge when I see a parked car with running lights on and wheels turned out. Glad you were okay

  • Jeff Gio

    most of the residential streets around Avondale have massive, unforgiving speed humps. The kind that remove your light off the cheap plastic mount

  • Pat

    Has the video been released publicly?

  • Charles Miller

    I have to wonder if basic truck side guards on that flatbed would have prevented her death in this all too common right-hooking-truck-on-bike scenario, turning it into a survivable injury. Or if better mirrors, cameras, or proximity sensors on that truck would have alerted the driver not to turn in the first place. These are questions that I think Chicago and we all need to ask.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    Yes, there’s video in this news report:

  • Pat

    Thank you.

  • Rhonda Smathers

    Apparently–it’s in the ABC video linked to in the article (they stop it before the moment of impact, thankfully).

  • Andrew Bedno
  • lindsaybanks

    Glad to hear you were ok and reported that Uber driver! I also report unsafe drivers.

  • Vance Wagner

    What appears to have happened was they determined or tried to determine if the truck signaled properly and the bike rider rode up his inside anyway without paying attention. Cars ignore the turn signal and do it all the time, getting hit. Why is the video evidence not shared???