“Human protected bike lane” tonight will honor Carla Aiello, 37, killed by turning trucker

The bike from today's crash. Image: CBS Chicago
The bike from today's crash. Image: CBS Chicago

Update 11/7/19, 9:45 AM: The victim has been identified as Carla Aiello, 37, of the Norwood Park neighborhood.

This morning, Wednesday, November 6, a turning truck driver failed to yield to a 37-year-old cyclist Carla Aiello riding in a bike lane at Milwaukee and Kilbourn avenues in the Irving Park community, killing her. Tonight from 5-7 p.m. bike community members will gather at the crash site and stand along the bikeway to form a “human protected bike lane” to draw attention to the need for safer conditions for cyclists.

According to Police News Affairs, at about 7 a.m. today Aiello was biking southeast on Milwaukee in the bike lane when a 41-year-old male dump truck driver heading southeast made a right turn onto Kilbourn with a green light, striking her. Aiello was crushed under the wheels of the truck and was pronounced dead at the scene. On Thursday morning the Cook County medical examiner’s office released her name and address block in the Northwood Park neighborhood northwest of the crash site.

The crash site, looking southeast. Image: google Maps
The crash site, looking southeast. Image: Google Maps

News Affairs did not have information about whether any citations had been issued to the driver, and said Major Accidents is investigating the case.

A CBS Chicago report on the case stated that the truck was stopped at a red light at Milwaukee and Kilbourn and struck the cyclist after the light turned green.

The dump truck from today's crash. Image: CBS Chicago
The dump truck from today’s crash. Image: CBS Chicago

Judging from the CBS report, police seemed to be going out of their way to absolve the driver of wrongdoing in the case. Although the trucker broke the law by failing to yield to through traffic before making a turn, CBS stated, “Police say the trucker had the right of way when he turned.” The report also stated, “Officers are calling this a tragic accident.”

This is nearly identical language that the CPD used in September after a turning flatbed truck driver killed Elizabeth Boshardy, 26, in River North. Boshardy, who was pregnant, was crossing the street in a crosswalk with a walk signal when the trucker made a left turn, striking her. “It appears to be a very, very tragic accident,” police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said after the crash. The trucker was later cited for failure to yield.

Today’s incident was the second fatal bike crash in the Irving Park community in about two weeks. On October 20 a hit-and-run driver struck Vincent Tran, 26, on his bike at Irving Park Road and Kimball Avenue. Tran died from his injuries on October 28.

Aiello was at least the fifth female or gender-nonconforming person on a bike fatally struck by a turning trucker in Chicago since summer 2016. The other cases include:

  • Virginia Murray, 25, fatally struck by a flatbed truck driver in Avondale in July 2016
  • Lisa Kuivinen, 20, struck and killed by a flatbed truck driver in River West in August 2016
  • Anastasia Kondrasheva, 23, fatally struck by a flatbed truck driver in Lakeview in September 2016
  • Angela Park, 39, struck and killed by a dump truck driver in Greektown in August 2018

In the wake of the first three tragedies, in July 2017 Chicago’s City Council passed a new ordinance requiring that any business with a city contract worth $2 million or more install side guards — hardware that helps prevent pedestrians and cyclists from going under the wheels — and convex mirrors on all trucks used to fulfill the contract that weigh 10,000 pounds or more. But it doesn’t cover all large vehicles operating in Chicago, and probably didn’t apply to the dump truck from today’s crash.

A side guard on a Chicago Department of Water truck.
A side guard on a Chicago Department of Water truck.

Bike Lane Uprising, a website that allows cyclists to document bikeway obstructions, is organizing tonight’s vigil. There’s more information about the event in this thread. You can RSVP on the Facebook event for the vigil to give the organizers an idea of how many people to expect.

Fatality Tracker: 2019 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths on surface streets
Pedestrian: 34
Bicyclist: 3

Note: Streetsblog Chicago’s traffic death numbers represent fatal crashes on Chicago surface streets, based on preliminary Chicago Police Department data for January though August 2019 released by the Chicago Department of Transportation, plus media reports for September, October, and November.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG