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Divvy Cyclist Killed In Crash Reportedly Country's First Bike-Share Death

By Mae Rice in News on Jul 1, 2016 6:31PM

Google street view image of the intersection where the cyclist was fatally struck.

A cyclist, widely reported to be a Divvy user, was killed in a crash with a flatbed truck in Avondale Friday morning, according to police. This is reportedly the first bike-share-related death in the country.

The crash occurred at about 9 a.m., when the cyclist and the truck, both headed north on Sacramento Avenue, crashed as they both turned right at Belmont Avenue.

The crash caused "significant injury" to the cyclist, a 25-year-old woman, police said. She was taken to Illinois Masonic Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead. The Chicago Police Department's Major Accidents division is investigating.

This is the United States' first bike-share-related, Paul DeMaio, principal of Washington, D.C. -based bike-share consulting business Metrobike, told the Tribune. It's also the first Divvy-related fatality Chicago has seen since the Divvy program launched in the summer of 2013, and one of just a couple cycling deaths in Chicago this year. A cyclist was killed two weeks ago in the Magnificent Mile after being pinned underneath a tour bus.

As we noted in April, accident stats suggested it was safer to ride a Divvy in Chicago than a personal bike.

Chicago Department of Transportation officials said in a statement that "Divvy and the City of Chicago express our deepest condolences to the rider’s family and loved ones." A CDOT spokeswoman also noted that the tragic cycling death represents the systems first-ever fatality over nearly 8 million rides taken by users.

Jim Merrell, the advocacy director at the Active Transportation Alliance, a local cycling advocacy group, also expressed condolences for the family and friends of the woman who was killed.

"It's a tragic reminder that there's still a lot of work to do," to reduce traffic fatalities in Chicago, he said, noting that City Hall has set a goal of bringing all traffic fatalities, to drivers, cyclists and pedestrians, to zero through its "Vision Zero" plan.

"We were really upset to hear about this," Merrell told Chicagoist, but he is hopeful that the fatality isn't an indication that Divvy is unsafe. "What we have seen since Divvy has launched, Divvy has been a really safe system in terms of the number of crashes. There have only been a handful of serious crashes reported, and that matches the experiences of other bikeshare programs around the country."

Divvy could be safer than riding a more typical bicycle because Divvy's frames are larger and heavier, and they're not geared to go very fast, but Merrell said he isn't sure.

Overall, Chicago may still have a ways to go to hit its goal of zero traffic fatalities, but at least when it comes to cycling, Merrell said there data indicates that the streets are getting safer: Chicago has seen a handful of cycling fatalities each year over the past ten years, even though the number of cyclists on the roads continues to rise.