This Was an Awful Week for Bike Crashes in the Chicago Region

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The aftermath of today’s injury crash at Roosevelt and Wood in the Illinois Medical District. Photo: Drew DeMott

This has been a terrible week for bike fatalities and injuries in the metropolitan area, with at least two deaths and two serious injury crashes in the city and suburbs. Here’s a look at the four cases.

Wlodzimierz Woroniecki, 60, Struck and Killed While Biking in Franklin Park

Just before 2 p.m. Monday, Woroniecki was biking westbound on Franklin Avenue near Wolf Road in west suburban Franklin Park, the Sun-Times reported. A westbound male motorcyclist struck Woroniecki from behind and both men were thrown to the ground.

Woroniecki, of the 2800 block of North Melvina Avenue in Chicago, was transported to Loyola University Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 8:16 p.m. Monday, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

The 51-year-old motorcyclist, suffered minor injuries and was treated at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Melrose Park.

It appears that no charges have been filed against the motorcyclist. Franklin Park police chief Michael Wirtz blamed the victim for the crash, telling the Sun-Times that the cyclist veered into traffic. Of course, Woroniecki is not alive to tell his side of the story.

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The 14-year-old girl was apparently coming off this sidewalk in front of Plainfield High School when she was struck. Image: Google Maps

14-Year-Old Girl Seriously Injured by SUV Driver While Biking in Plainfield

On Thursday afternoon, a Plainfield North High School student was struck while riding her bike from the school.

Shortly after 2 p.m., the girl was heading in the south crosswalk of the intersection of 119th Street and 248th Avenue, at the northwest corner of the school property, according to the Plainfield police. It appears that a 28-year-old woman driving a Honda CR-V with a two-year-old passenger was driving north on 248th when she struck the girl, police said.

“The bicyclist was conscious and breathing, but showed signs of significant injuries,” police said in a news release. The girl was airlifted to Loyola Medical Center in Maywood. Her condition was unknown as of 5 p.m. Thursday, but a spokesman for the school told the Herald-News the girl was “awake and responsive.”

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The concete truck that killed Qiu. Photo: Evanston Police Department

Chuyuan “Chu” Qiu, 18, Killed in Concrete Truck Crash While Biking on Northwestern Campus

At around 5 p.m. Thursday afternoon, Qiu, a Northwestern freshman was biking westbound, leaving of a university parking lot at Library Place and Sheridan Road in Evanston, according to authorities. According to Evanston police, as Qiu entered Sheridan Road, she was struck by the wheel of a concrete truck heading north on Sheridan with a green light, driven by a 38-year-old man from Des Plaines. She fell off her bike and went under the truck.

Qiu, who lived nearby on the 2100 block of Sheridan, was transported to Evanston NorthShore Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

This was at least the fifth time a bicyclist has been fatally struck by a commercial vehicle driver in Chicago since June 15, and the third fatal incident in which the victim fell underneath a truck. Truck side panels, which are becoming increasingly common in countries like Great Britain, help prevent these kind of fatalities.

The concrete truck driver has not been charged in connection with the crash, and the police have indicated that they feel he was not at fault, noting that they do not believe he was impaired or distacted, the Chicago Tribune reported. However, they were quick to say that Qiu caused the crash.

“She just misjudged the speed of the truck,” Evanston police Chief Richard Eddington told the Tribune. “Or didn’t realize how long the truck was. … A tragic accident.” The police also noted that Qiu was not wearing a bike helmet, as if that would have made a difference for a person run over by a concrete truck.

A memorial to the fallen cyclist has been created under a tree near the crash site, and plans for a memorial service will be announced soon, according to a Northwest spokesman.

Qiu, a native of Nanjing, China, was just starting college at Northwestern this semester. She was a member of the Kaplan Humanities Scholars Program.

Bike lanes were originally planned for installation on this stretch of Sheridan a few years ago but postponed in 2014 until summer 2017 due to utility work, city of Evanston staffer Mark Muenzer told the Tribune. It’s not certain that bike lanes on Sheridan would have prevented the crash, but they may have helped by reminding the truck driver to watch for bike traffic.

Woman Seriously Injured by Truck Driver While Biking in Illinois Medical District

Shortly before 4 p.m. today, the driver of a northbound semi truck made a right turn to head east on Roosevelt Road, according to Streetsblog reader Drew DeMott, who was in a building at the southeast corner of the intersection at the time. The driver struck the female bike rider, and it appeared her shoe was knocked off in the crash, DeMott said.

Chicago fire officials told WLS that the cyclist was taken to Stroger Hospital in serious to critical condition.

Our thoughts are with the loved ones of Woroniecki and Qiu, and we wish the two crash survivors a fast and full recovery. Everyone please be careful out there this weekend.

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