Friday, July 1, 2016

Bicyclist Riding Divvy Bike Killed In Collision With Flat-Bed Truck in Avondale

A Wicker Park woman riding a Divvy bike in Chicago's Avondale neighborhood was killed in a crash with a flat-bed truck. According to, the bicyclist has been identified as 25-year old Virginia Murray. Multiple news outlets are reporting that this is the first death of a rider using a bike-sharing bicycle within the United States. 

Prior to the crash, both the bicyclist and the operator of the flat-bed truck were traveling on Sacramento near Belmont in Chicago's Avondale neighborhood on the northwest side. Images posted on the article show the flat bed track in the street with the Divvy bicycle upon the nearby sidewalk. This would appear to indicate that the bicycle was to the inside of the truck at the time of impact. 

"Right Hook" Bicycle Crashes

According to the Chicago Police Department, the flat-bed truck and the bicyclist were both traveling north on Sacramento when both the bicyclist and the truck made a right-hand turn onto Belmont. As both vehicles were turning onto Belmont a collision occurred. The general facts of the crash at this time suggest what is known as a "right-hook" crash. 

A "right-hook" occurs when the operator of a motor vehicle turns right over a bicyclist riding in the same direction. Given that a bicyclist typically rides to the right towards the curb that would place the bicyclist on the "inside" of a turning motor vehicle.

Flat-bed trucks are typically commercial vehicles most often used as tow trucks. Operators of these vehicles are required to adhere to all of the applicable rules of the road, such as the Chicago Municipal Code, the Illinois Vehicle Code, and also Federal requirements for vehicles of this nature. These legal requirements provide that 1) Drivers should "keep a proper lookout" for bicycles; and 2) to not turn right until it is safe to do so. It is axiomatic that if a vehicle is "clear" to turn, that a bicycle crash cannot occur.

Legal Requirements for Commercial Vehicles

In addition, there are other specific laws that apply to a bicycle crash of this nature:
  • 49 C.F.R. Section 383.111 of the Code of Federal Regulations requires a professional driver to recognize and avoid potential hazards at all times around a turning tractor truck. 
  • Section 11-1003.1 of the Illinois Motor Vehicle Code states that every driver of a vehicle must 1) always exercise care to avoid colliding with pedestrians and bicyclists, and 2) sound their horn to provide warning of an impending impact.
  • Section 9-16-020 of the Municipal Code of Chicago specifically provides that a motor vehicle should not turn right across the path of a bicyclist traveling in the same direction until it is "clear" and safe to make the turn. This is known as a "right hook."

Legal Consequences of Fatal Crashes

There are no reports as of yet regarding any traffic-related criminal charges having been filed. In Illinois, a crash of this nature can also be the basis of a wrongful death case on behalf of the family of the bicyclist. 

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and loved ones of Virginia Murray and all those affected by this tragedy. 

Leaders In Bicycle Crash Litigation

Keating Law Offices is the premier law firm in Illinois that represents victims of bicycle accidents and crashes. Attorney Michael S. Keating is the Chair of the Bicycle Litigation Committee for the National Trial Lawyers Association, the American Association for Justice. The firm is nationally renowned for its experience in handling cases stemming from injuries or wrongful deaths as a result of collisions with motor vehicles.

If you have any questions regarding this post or an issue involving Illinois personal injury law, contact Illinois Bicycle Attorney Michael S. Keating at 312-208-7702 or 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All e-mails and phone calls are returned promptly. All initial consultations are confidential and absolutely free and without any obligation.