BMW driver fatally struck Gerardo Marciales, 41, as he crossed DLSD on a Divvy bike

Gerardo Marciales.
Gerardo Marciales.

Update 3/7/22, 2:30 PM: A person associated with the Divvy program told Streetsblog, “Our Compassionate Care team has reached out to his family to see if there’s anything we can do to help and we are assisting CPD in the investigation. I’ve heard there are efforts to get a ghost bike in place if that hasn’t happened already.”

Update 3/4/22, 11:15 AM: On the day of the crash, February 28, the Chicago Police Department stated that the BMW driver was not cited. When Streetsblog asked yesterday whether any citations had been issued, Police News Affairs said there were no updates in the case. However, attorney Michael Keating noted yesterday evening that a code on the crash report indicates that the driver was cited for improper lane use, and additional citations charges could still be issued.

Update 3/4/22, 7:00 AM: After publication of this article, a Streetsblog reader commented that at the Mayor’s Pedestrian Advisory Council meeting hosted by the Chicago Department of Transportation on February 14, 2018, the reader voiced concern about the danger of drivers on DuSable Lake Shore Drive disobeying left turn signals and driving straight through intersections, the same move police said the BMW driver in the Gerardo Marciales case executed. The minutes from that meeting state that an attendee made a public comment regarding the “Jackson and [DuSable] Lake Shore Drive intersection – there are two left-turn only lanes and drivers tend to drive straight through the inside lane with the turn signal, endangering pedestrians with the walk signal.” 

“Did CDOT listen?” asked the commenter. “Of course not. This was an entirely preventable death.”

Gerardo Marciales, 41, who worked as a technical consulting engineer for the tech company Cisco, was fatally struck while riding a Divvy bike from the Lakefront Trail across DuSable Lake Shore Drive in the Loop.

According to police, on Monday, February 28, at about 4:40 p.m., Marciales was biking west across the drive at Balbo Drive when the 26-year-old male driver of a BMW 3281 sedan struck him.

Marciales was taken to Northwestern Hospital in critical condition with injuries to both arms, police said. According to the Cook County medical examiner’s office, Marciales, who lived on the 2000 block of North Lincoln Park West in Lincoln Park, died from his injuries on Wednesday, March 2, at 1:41 p.m.

The driver declined medical attention and was not cited.

Marciales’ Facebook page states that he got engaged to be married last June. The page includes handlebar-view shots of the Lakefront Trail in winter, and indicates that he was a fan of indie rock, hip-hop, and heavy metal music.

The narrative on the crash report provides more information about what reportedly happened. “While driving northbound on [DuSable] Lake Shore Drive at [Balbo], [the driver] instead of turning left according to the traffic signal, continued north and hit a cyclist at the pedestrian crossing.”

Aerial view of the Balbo / DuSable Lake Shore intersection. Image: Google Maps
Aerial view of the Balbo / DuSable Lake Shore intersection. Image: Google Maps

One of the witnesses told Streetsblog she was driving north on DLSD, which is ten lanes wide in this location, a few lanes west of the east curb, and the BMW driver was just behind her in the lane to her left. “I come from a line of law enforcement personnel, so I try to pay close attention to my surroundings,” she said. She added that she had a green light when she crossed Balbo.

The witness said that from looking in her right rear-view mirror, her impression was that Marciales had been part of a group of people who had been waiting to cross DLSD on the east curb by the crosswalk, including four other bike riders who appeared to be traveling together, and two young women who were jogging. She said that while the joggers were still on the curb when the crash happened, and the group of four bike riders were only about a foot west of the curb in the street, Marciales was in front of them. “I think he was paying attention to whether the light [for northbound traffic] had turned red, but not whether the intersection was clear.”

The witness said that while she did not see the moment of impact, she heard the crash and looked in her rear-view mirror and saw Marciales flying through the air. “I was like, ‘What the hell was that?'” The cyclist, who was on a blue, non-electric Divvy bike, struck the right side of the BMW driver’s windshield.

The witness said she parked in the yellow striped median north of the intersection and tried to assist Marciales. He was still breathing, and his eyes were slightly open, but he was “severely bleeding” from both nostrils, and the lower-right leg of his pants was torn off. Her assumption was that he hit his head, but she did not notice any other injuries. Other motorists tried to help as well, including a man with an emergency medical response kit. “The [BMW] driver was extremely upset and remorseful, kneeling down by the cyclist with the man with the EMR kit.”

The witness said she called 911 and helped direct traffic, and a firetruck and an ambulance arrived within ten minutes. She said she stayed at the scene until responding police officers took her information. “It was really hard sleeping that night.”

Said a Streetsblog reader who witnessed the aftermath of the crash, “What’s clear to me is that it’s highly unlikely a rider would attempt to cross such a busy road without the cross signal on. The theory that a [driver] may have been using the left turn lane to speed around traffic going north seems highly likely. I’m hoping we can get the rider’s story or camera footage.”

Balbo/DLSD as it appeared in June 2019, looking north towards the crosswalk where the driver struck Marciales. Image: Google Maps
Balbo/DLSD as it appeared in June 2019, looking north towards the crosswalk where the driver struck Marciales. Image: Google Maps

Local bike and pedestrian case lawyers weighed in on the available info about the incident. “A cyclist is in critical condition because the driver of a BMW went straight through a green turn arrow and into this cyclist,” said attorney Michael Keating of Keating Law Offices (a Streetsblog Chicago sponsor), before hearing that Marciales had died. “Just as we push for systemic changes to fight crime, we must also demand that the city of Chicago advance infrastructure and policies for safe streets and also to appropriately prosecute these traffic violations for what they really are – a form of violent crime.”

Said attorney Brendan Kevenides of FK Law (also a Streetsblog Chicago sponsor), “As someone who frequently rides from the Loop to the Lake Front Path I find this crash particularly frightening. Crossing DLSD on a bike at Balbo, Buckingham Fountain, Jackson, or Monroe often means having faith that northbound drivers in the left lanes will obey their traffic signals. Given the speeds on DLSD, the idea of a driver blasting through the light and continuing north while people on foot and bike attempt to cross to get to the lakefront is terrifying to contemplate.” He recommended that the area install more signs and other indicators to remind drivers on the drive to watch out for pedestrians and cyclists at these at-grade crossings.

Local sustainable transportation advocates, including the group Better Streets Chicago, have argued that the upcoming reconstruction of North Lake Shore Drive should reduce the footprint of the highway, in part so that it becomes less of a barrier for people walking and biking to the lakefront. However, the Chicago and Illinois transportation departments are not currently considering that alternative, and a scenario that would build two additional lanes was still under consideration as of last summer.

Marciales was the third person to be fatally struck while riding a Divvy bike since the bike-share system launched in 2013. In July 2016, a right-turning flatbed truck driver struck and killed Virginia Murray, 25, on a non-electric Divvy cycle at Belmont and Sacramento avenues in Avondale. In September 2020, a car driver fatally struck Andrew Ryan Biesen, 28, as he rode an electric Divvy at Warren Boulevard and Damen Avenue on the Near West Side. A 2016 study by the Mineta Transportation Institute found that nationally bike-share had a strong safety record.

Fatality Tracker: 2022 Chicago pedestrian and bicyclist deaths on surface streets

Pedestrian: 2
Bicyclist: 1

Note: Streetsblog Chicago’s traffic death numbers represent fatal crashes on Chicago surface streets, based on media reports and/or preliminary Chicago Police Department data released by the Chicago Department of Transportation.

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