UPTOWN — A 3-year-old girl was killed when a semi-truck hit her mom’s bike Thursday morning in Uptown.
A woman was riding a bike with the toddler in a seat on the back of the bike, police said. About 8 a.m., the two were riding in the 1100 block of West Leland Avenue when the bicyclist and the driver of a semi-truck going in the same direction crashed, police said, citing preliminary information.
The girl’s mother was “crowded” between a Com-Ed truck blocking a bike lane and a semi-truck, the Sun-Times reported, citing a police report. The mother and toddler were then clipped by the truck, the paper reports.
The toddler was taken to Lurie Children’s Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. The Cook County medical examiner’s officer identified her as Elizabeth Grace Shambrook.
No other injuries were reported, police said.
An investigation was ongoing. After the crash, a damaged bicycle could be seen in the street near a large ComEd truck, which was parked in a bike lane on the corner of Leland and Winthrop avenues. An upside-down children’s seat was a few feet away, near a semi-truck.
Neighbor Loretta Malone said she was eating breakfast nearby when the crash happened. She didn’t see the crash, but she heard a truck stop and screaming; looking outside, she saw the child in the car seat and the truck, she said. She called 911.
“Every parent in America right now understands the feeling of walking a tightrope between not wanting to traumatize your child for something that you can’t control and wanting to protect them from everything possible,” Malone said. “And you can’t control it. But who wouldn’t do anything to save their child?”
Malone said officials have been doing work on the street, but Thursday was the first time she’d seen the ComEd truck that blocked the bike lane and the stop sign. The crash did not involve the ComEd truck, according to a statement from the company — though it was in the bike lane when Block Club reporters arrived on scene.
“I can’t imagine having cycled for many years myself in Chicago, I can’t imagine trying to navigate between that ComEd truck and the moving, delivery, semi-truck, whatever that is — very disorienting,” Malone said.
This is the second child to be killed in a crash recently in Chicago. Last week, a driver hit and killed 2-year-old Raphael “Rafi” Cardenas while the boy was in a Lincoln Square crosswalk.
Malone said she’s not sure what could be done to make Chicago’s streets safer, but the solution will have to come from all angles.
“Cyclists have to be informed and safe. And then, you know, drivers have to see us,” Malone said. “I don’t know that there’s an easy solution. [Thursday’s victims] were on a side street, wearing helmets, minding their business, so, they were doing all the right things, right?”
The fatal crash occurred along a stretch of Leland Avenue that is designated a “neighborhood greenway,” or a low-stress bike route that is removed from busy streets.
Leland Avenue in Uptown was also made a “shared street” the past two years, where only local traffic was allowed to give neighbors more outdoor space during the pandemic. That designation has not yet returned this summer.
Leland Avenue west of Clark Street will be added to the neighborhood greenway route, with plans for curb bump-outs, bike-friendly speed humps and a contraflow bike lane from Clark Street to Damen Avenue.
Work on the new bike infrastructure is expected to begin this year.
Leland Avenue east of Clark Street, where the fatal crash occurred, only has a painted bike line. Ald. James Cappleman (46th) said in a statement he is looking to add bike and pedestrian safety measures to the road.
“Our office has already been working with the Chicago Department of Transportation to create traffic safety measures to reduce vehicular speeds and increase safety for pedestrians and cyclists traveling down Leland,” Cappleman said. “We will be reaching out to CDOT to see what further measures can be put in to avoid further accidents.”
This is a breaking news story. Check back for more updates.
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