Thursday, November 7, 2019

Details Emerge in Death of Chicago Cyclist Due to Right Hook on Milwaukee Avenue Bike Lane

The driver of a dump truck who struck a bicyclist when turning from southeast bound Milwaukee Avenue onto Kilbourn Avenue has been issued two traffic citations by the Chicago Police Department. The two citations stem from the fatal crash which occurred early Wednesday morning. The police officers that originally arrived at the scene did not issue citations, but it appears that after the Major Accidents Investigation Unit became involved and additional details emerged that the traffic citations were issued. The driver of the dump truck was issued a citation for negligent driving and another for an improper right turn. 

"Negligent Driving" is a violation of 9-140-160 of the Chicago Municipal Code. According to this section, "Every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian, or any person operating a bicycle or other device propelled by human or animal power,  upon any roadway, and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary and shall exercise proper precautions upon observing any child or any confused or incapacitated person upon a roadway." This is a very general provision of the Municipal Code that is frequently used in issuing citations to motorists who are involved in crashes with bicyclists or pedestrians. 

"Improper Right Turn" is what bicyclists commonly refer to as a "Right Hook Crash." Sub-paragraph F of 9-16-020 outlines the requirements for a motorist turning right in front of a bicycle.  "When a motor vehicle and a bicycle are traveling in the same direction on any highway, street, or road, the operator of the motor vehicle overtaking such bicycle traveling on the right side of the roadway shall not turn to the right in front of the bicycle at that intersection or at any alley or driveway until such vehicle has overtaken and is safely clear of the bicycle." Tragically, in this case it appears that the driver of the dump truck failed to ensure that the bicycle lane was free and clear of bicycle traffic before executing the right turn from Milwaukee Avenue onto Kilbourn Avenue. 

The Chicago Tribune reported that the bicyclist was 37-year old Carla Aiello of Chicago's Union Ridge neighborhood. Carla worked as a school counselor at Josephinum Academy, an all-girls School of the Sacred Heart in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood. 

Block Club Chicago reported that there were plans in place by the City of Chicago to install a protected bicycle lane on this stretch of Milwaukee Avenue but many resident complained about the loss of parking spots for automobiles. Instead, the City of Chicago painted marked bicycle lanes without any barrier protection. 

Our most sincere thoughts and prayers are with Carla Aiello's family and friends.