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Northwestern Students, Chicago Cylists Honor Crash Victim Chuyuan Qiu

Chuyuan Qiu. Photo: Yunqi Li

The Northwestern University community, as well as Chicago-area bicyclists, are still processing the death of Chuyuan “Chu” Qiu, an 18-year-old student who was killed last month after she collided with a concrete truck while biking by the Evanston campus.

A native of Nanjing, China, Qiu was a member of the Kaplan Humanities Scholars Program and resident of the university’s Residential College of Community and Cultural Studies. On Thursday, September 22, at around 5 p.m., after meeting with an advisor, she was biking west out of a campus parking lot when she was run over by the northbound truck driver on Sheridan Road. The driver, a 38-year-old man from Des Plaines, was not ticketed.

More than 650 people attended a memorial service for Qiu last Friday at a campus chapel, The Daily Northwestern reported. Campus faculty and students remembered her as enthusiasm and pride about coming to study in the United States.

The young woman’s family members had come had come from China for the memorial. “My sweet daughter,” said Qiu’s father, speaking at his daughter’s memorial service, according to the Daily Northwestern. “I’m coming to take you home… We love you so much, especially now. Can you feel it?”

In the wake of Qiu’s death, Evanston alderman Judy Fiske has proposed lowering the speed limit on Sheridan by the campus from 30 mph to 20 mph. Northwestern student Emily Blim launched a petition advocating for this change, which has garnered some 630 signatures.

On Tuesday evening, Chicagoans from the group Ghost Bikes Chicago traveled to Evanston pay their respects to Qiu by installing a white-painted “ghost bike” memorial at the crash site, where students had previously left flowers, candles, notes, and other mementoes. A classmate of Qiu’s had requested the ghost bike, and members of the Northwestern bike community came to greet them.

The ghost bike memorial to Qiu at the crash site. Photo: Yasmeen Schuller

“It is a sad day when we have to do an install,” said Yasmeen Schuller, owner of The Chainlink website, who helped plan the ghost bike installation for Qiu. “These tragedies could be prevented.”

Schuller noted that four days after the student died, health coach Anastasia Kondrasheva, 23, was fatally struck by a right-turning flatbed truck driver while biking in Roscoe Village, a few blocks from Schuller’s home. “We had to paint two bikes at the same time in order to keep up,” she said. “I will never forget that.” A candlelight vigil and ghost bike installation at Kondrasheva’s crash site drew some 300 people last Friday.

Matthew Johnson and Kristen Green from Ghost Bikes Chicago also helped prepare the two ghost bikes and arrange the installation. Green said she hopes Qiu’s memorial will help prevent future tragedies. “We left a white bike to help warn others of a possibly unsafe area, and just to slow the cyclists and drivers down, for a moment of reflection,” Green said. “Because we all need to think about the people on the bikes, not just the inconvenience of sharing the road.”

Read reminiscences of Qiu by her high school friends in The Daily Northwestern.

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