NOBLE SQUARE — A journey home by bicycle from Whole Foods early Saturday evening went horribly awry for an East Village couple who were assaulted by a man riding a motorcycle, according to police and witnesses.
At about 4 p.m. Saturday, a 35-year-old man and a 33-year-old woman were riding their bikes northbound in River West’s Milwaukee Avenue bike lane after shopping for groceries at Whole Foods in Lincoln Park. They’d taken Kingsbury Street to Chicago Avenue to Milwaukee Avenue on their route home.
While headed over the Kennedy Expy. overpass, two motorcyclists riding small motorcycles passed the couple while “weaving in and out of traffic and the bike lane,” according to the woman, who does not want her or her husband’s names published for fear of retaliation.
“My husband signaled with his hand that he intended to merge into the left lane and one of the motorcyclists tried to grab my husband’s outstretched hand, which my husband quickly retracted. The motorcyclists dropped back slightly and we moved into the left lane, stopping at the red light at Milwaukee and Augusta, waiting to make a left-hand turn,” the woman said.
As the light turned green, the motorcyclists accelerated through the light and one of them grabbed the woman’s right buttock with “a large, aggressive, open-handed movement,” according to the woman.
“It was humiliating and completely unprovoked,” the woman said.
The man who groped the woman was riding a green bike, while his riding partner rode a yellow and black motorcycle.
After witnessing the motorcyclist touch his wife, the woman’s husband immediately took off on his bike, following both motorcyclists down Milwaukee Avenue.
“I followed, but my husband, an avid cyclist was very, very fast quickly gained several blocks on me. While I tried to catch up with my husband, he had already caught up with the motorcyclists at the light at Division and Milwaukee, where they were stopped at a red light. Witnesses at the scene and my husband tell me that my husband yelled at the (green bike) motorcyclist for assaulting and demeaning a woman. He then turned to the other motorcyclist, at which point the (green bike) motorcyclist punched my husband,” the woman wrote to Block Club in an email.
The motorcyclist was wearing gloves with hard plastic or carbon knuckles, and with one punch to the jaw, knocked the woman’s husband briefly unconscious.
When the woman arrived to the intersection of Milwaukee and Division, in the 1100 block of North Milwaukee Avenue just a few seconds later, she said her husband was still unconscious on the pavement, the motorcyclists had just sped off, and a crowd was gathering around the scene.
Two witnesses carried her husband to the sidewalk where he slowly regained consciousness after initially having trouble standing and speaking.
Police officers arrived shortly after the attackers sped off.
Officer Norma Pelayo, a Chicago Police spokeswoman, confirmed the incident and said both victims declined medical attention at the scene.
No one is in custody, Pelayo said.
Since her husband was able to walk after the incident, and because they had their bicycles, they declined medical attention at the scene and walked their bikes a couple of blocks home. The woman then drove her husband to the emergency room at St. Mary’s on Division.
“My husband is very, very lucky that he had a bike helmet on. The helmet itself is shattered and while my husband sustained a concussion, he appears to be mostly alright. He does have some major swelling to his face as a result of the punch with hard-knuckled gloves,” the woman said.
She said she thinks the helmet got shattered from the fall to the ground, opposed to the punch, as the punch hit her husband “square in the jaw.”
Bystanders took photos of the men riding away through the intersection after witnessing the attack and texted them to the woman, so that she could share the photos with police. The woman also shared the photos on a neighborhood Facebook page, in hopes that someone will recognize the attackers or they will turn themselves in.
“I’d like to recommend that everyone keep an eye out for them. If anyone does see them, report them to the police using the report number #JB-446529,” the woman said.
The woman said both motorcyclists appeared to be white, in their 20s-30s, medium height and slightly heavy. The assailant drove a green bike and wore jeans, a black hoodie that read “legalize wheelies” on the back, black sneakers with white soles, and a helmet covered in stickers. His partner wore a grey sweatshirt, jeans, and red helmet and rode a black and yellow bike.
The woman said her husband, who is a teacher, has never been in a fight in his entire life and that the attack cast a shadow over the rest of their weekend.
“We were having a great day! It was beautiful out and we were having a nice outing planning dinners for the week. grabbing a bite to eat, and just enjoying the beginning of autumn. We’ve both been cycling for years. For my husband who was raised in Lincoln Park …biking is his primary method of transport,” she wrote.
The woman said she’s lived in the city for 15 years and has been biking for about five years. She and her husband bike everywhere, from dinners in the neighborhood, to grocery shopping, to running errands.
“Nothing like this has ever happened to us in all our lives and it definitely changed our perspective. When I drove him to the hospital last night, it was the first time I’d driven in months. Today, I couldn’t bring myself to take out my bike and I think it may be a while before I do, unfortunately,” the woman said Sunday.