SUV driver critically injured Little Village activist, transportation advocate Chris Didato

Chris Didato
Chris Didato

For years community activist Chris Didato, 52, has worked to improve his neighborhood and city, including advocacy to make Chicago a great place to walk and bike. Tragically, a driver struck and critically injured him on Monday evening, laying bare just how much farther we have to go to achieve that goal.

According to Chicago Police New Affairs, on Monday, August 30, at around 7:05 p.m., a 42-year-old man was driving a 2003 Ford Explorer SUV west on 83rd Street in Chicago’s Ashburn community when he made a northbound right turn onto Cicero Avenue. According to the police statement, Didato “appeared in the street” and the motorist struck him. (The victim is currently unable to tell his side of the story.) Didato was taken to Christ Hospital in critical condition.

83rd and Cicero, looking northwest. Image: Google Maps
83rd and Cicero, looking northwest. Image: Google Maps

Police said that traffic on 83rd had a green light at the time of the collision, and Didato was walking east on 83rd. That indicates that he may have had a walk signal when the turning driver struck him, and therefore the motorist may have failed to yield. However, the motorist has not been charged or cited. Major Accidents is investigating the case.

A GoFundMe has been launched to cover Didato’s expenses and has raised more than $6,000 towards a $5,000 goal. (He will likely need much more than that to help cover medical bills and other expenses.) On the web page, his friend Pablo Serrano wrote that Didato was crossing the street to pick up food for his mother when the driver struck him.

“Chris is hospitalized and getting medical care as well as being cared for by his mother Sandra Castillo,” Serrano wrote. “Unfortunately this trauma has left Chris and his family in a tremendously challenging situation where 100 percent of their energy has to be devoted to what is going to be a very long recovery from a serious head injury… Chris Didato is an amazing human who spent most of his time supporting the community, work which he loved and believed in.”

In addition to community activism, including volunteering for Chuy Garcia’s mayoral campaign, and hosting karaoke at Simone’s bar in Pilsen, Didato has long been involved with transportation advocacy, such as riding in the Chicago Critical Mass bike parade /demonstration. A few years ago when protected bike lanes were removed from Marshall Boulevard in Little Village after a backlash from neighbors, he shed some light on the subject.

“As a biker, protected lanes make sense,” Didato told me when I interviewed him for a Chicago Reader article on the issue. “[They] did make me feel safer.” But he emphasized the need for more public input. “The community has to be onboard. The city didn’t involve residents in the change to protected bike lanes, so a lot of residents weren’t supportive.”

Chris is also active on Twitter, and has weighed in on sustainable transportation topics ranging from zero-tolerance ticketing of cyclists in communities of color; to abandoned bike removal; to the need for better clearance of snow from sidewalks. Here are a few examples of his posts.

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And like many people who ride bikes, Chris has a keen eye for interesting bicycle parking racks.

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Please keep Chris Didato and his family in your thoughts as he fights to come back from his injuries, and consider making a donation to his GoFundMe to aid with his recovery.

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