Eyes on the Street: Vigil at the Avondale Corner Where Virginia Murray Died
Motorists drove carefully around the large crowd of supporters that had gathered and spilled into the roadway last night at the corner of Belmont and Sacramento, where Virginia Murray was fatally struck while riding a bicycle on July 1.
Over 40 people had come for a vigil for Murray, and to watch the installation of a ghost bike in her honor. Ghost bikes are a worldwide tradition memorializing the life of someone who died riding a bicycle. Anthony Arce, a nearby resident who witnessed the crash, and Kristen Green, a former neighbor of Murray, organized the event.
Around 9 a.m. on Friday, July 1, Murray was riding northbound on Sacramento when the nortbound driver of an AB Hardwood Flooring flatbed truck turned east onto Belmont, running over Murray. Security camera video from the gas station across the street proves that this was a “right hook” crash. Attorney Mike Keating (a Streetsblog Chicago sponsor) wrote about the crash on his blog, stating that “Ms. Murray’s path was exactly the one that a Chicago bicyclist should follow.”
The crowd was silent for nearly 15 minutes, while friends and family placed candles, balloons, flyers, and other mementos. Pamela Lowe, the parent of one of Murray’s friends, broke the silence and said, “In times when there’s a lot of upheaval in our world, Ginny stood for everything that was good,” according to DNAinfo. Then Lowe and other parents of Virginia’s childhood friends recited the “Our Father” and “Hail Mary” prayers.
Alder Deb Mell (33rd Ward) joined the vigil and spoke with the parents, Lowe, and Green. Mell’s office organizes a Transportation Action Committee, of which I’m a founding member, to advise her on active transportation issues in the ward, which includes parts of Avondale, Albany Park, and Ravenswood Manor.
Mell told DNAinfo that plans to install bike lanes on Belmont from Kedzie to Halsted had “been put on hold.” Staff from the Chicago Department of Transportation’s bike program told the Transportation Action Committee two times in 2014 that CDOT was planning to install the bike lanes that year or in 2015.
I’ve asked CDOT to comment on the status of this project and will update this post if they provide one. Bike lanes on Belmont would help remind drivers to check for bicyclists before turning onto the street, which could help prevent crashes like Murray’s in the future.CDOT and Divvy staff also attended the vigil. The TAC meets on the fourth Thursday of each month at Horner Park Fieldhouse.