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Family Of The Divvy Cyclist Killed By Truck Is Suing Driver

By Kirsten Onsgard in News on Aug 1, 2016 7:24PM

Virginia Murray, photo courtesy of her family.

The family of the woman killed in the first-ever fatal bike-sharing accident is suing the truck driver who struck her.

Virginia Murray, 25, was struck by a flatbed truck on July 1 around 9 a.m. while traveling north on Sacramento Avenue near Belmont Avenue. Cosmin Radu, the driver who worked for A&B Flooring Company, crashed into Murray while both attempted to turn east on Belmont Avenue. Murray "did nothing wrong," the family's attorney Jeffrey Kroll told, and was wearing a helmet and was an "experienced cyclist," he said.

Murray, who was graduate of the University of Illinois and Blue Cross Blue Shield employee, was taken to Illinois Masonic Hospital and pronounced dead.

The lawsuit, filed in Cook County Court Monday by Kroll of the law firm Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard, maintains that the driver did not keep a proper lookout for cyclists and failed to yield a right of way. Divvy and the Department of Transportation are not directly implicated in the case, but are listed as Respondents in Discovery, meaning that they have information pertinent to the lawsuit.

Kroll told Chicagoist that, while his clients are not against bike-sharing, they want to know what measures the Department of Transportation is taking to ensure riders are safe.

"This accident was inevitable," Kroll told Chicagoist. "What we are trying to figure out is, what plans does Divvy have, along with the city of Chicago, to ensure this does not happen again."

While there have been a few high-profile cases of cyclist deaths this year—including a cyclist killed by a tour bus near the Magnificent Mile downtown—this accident is the first known bike-share fatality in the country. Since Divvy's 2013 launch, riders have taken more than 7.8 million trips and more than 900,000 different people have used the service, which is owned by the Chicago Department of Transportation.

Relatively speaking, cycling fatalities are a rare occurrence, with just 21 riders killed per 100 million trips. And there's some evidence to suggest that bike-sharing is actually safer than riding a personal bike. One study concluded that bike-sharing cyclists have a lower rate of injury.

On Divvy bikes, this could be due to its heavy design—meaning slower rides—and bright blue coloring, which should make the bikes easier to spot.

"We were really upset to hear about this," Jim Merrell, advocacy director of the Active Transportation Alliance, told Chicagoist last month. "What we have seen since Divvy has launched, Divvy has been a really safe system in terms of the number of crashes.

With more riders on the road and a push for bike-sharing, the city has also been investing heavily in creating more bike lanes. These are especially lacking on the South and West Sides.

Sacramento Avenue near Belmont Avenue does not have a designated bike lane.

"Asking bicyclists and motorists to peacefully coexist is a recipe for disaster,” Kroll said in a statement. "(Murray's) death tragically marks the nation's first bike-sharing death. But if we cannot find a way to safely accommodate bikes on busy roadways, this will not be the last tragedy of this nature."

Kroll and the family are holding a press conference in the city Monday at 2 p.m.