Cyclist said she was dragged up Kimball by men in SUV

August 20, 2013|By Rachel Cromidas, @rachelcromidas | RedEye

The moment Jana Kinsman felt a hand on her back, she started screaming.

The 27-year-old Logan Square cyclist was riding up Kimball Avenue just after midnight Tuesday, she said, when a maroon or purple colored SUV pulled up beside her, and a hand shot out toward her from inside it. In just seconds, she was being pulled up the street by the handle of her messenger bag, and crashed into a parked car. "I just remember when they grabbed me, I thought, this is not going to end well," she said in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon. "I remember falling and hitting the ground, and screaming. I didn't know what else to do, I was so furious and terrified. I wasn't sure what had happened to my body." Kinsman, who regularly rides her bike for miles between Bridgeport, Pilsen, and Old Irving Park for Bike-a-Bee, a nonprofit beekeeping program she founded, was on her way to Albany Park to check up on a friend's cat--on a route she knew well. She said the SUV pulled up beside her, with several men in it, trapping her between it and a row of parked cars. One man sitting in the rear, right passenger's seat grabbed her bag through the window, and clung onto her until she swerved, hit a parked car, and fell.
The fall happened near the cross streets of Kimball Avenue and Wrightwood Avenue, according to police officials. Kinsman said she landed on her left arm and hip, and sustained bruises and roadrash on her arms and legs, but no broken bones, according to a hospital scan.

Kinsman spoke to Chicago Police officers on the scene around 12:20 a.m., and they labeled the incident a hit-and-run. She said a witness told her the vehicle was a Chevy Tahoe, but no one knew the license plate number. She said she refused medical attention from emergency vehicles on the scene, but asked her roommate to take her to the Swedish Covenant Hospital emergency room by taxi after realizing that her left arm was aching badly and her bicycle front wheel was too damaged to use. Without that plate number, it's unlikely the case will go further, according to Brendan Kevenides, an attorney who specializes in cycling accidents and is looking into Kinsman's case.

"This sort of thing happens a lot, and generally the Chicago Police Department doesn't do a whole lot," Kevenides said. "We'll try to see if there's any video of this incident, and if it's of sufficient quality. It is frankly difficult to get video that identifies the vehicle sufficiently."

After leaving the hospital in the morning, Kinsman took to Twitter:   "What still has me sobbing with rage is the violation of my entire being. I could have been killed by these guys in a car," She wrote. "[I] am in pain and furious and feeling helpless."

By midday Tuesday, Kinsman's Tweets about the incident, archived by a friend using Storify, had inspired forum conversations on the Chainlink, a popular city bicycling website, and several cycling list-serves. People offered Kinsman sympathy, legal advice, home-cooked meals, and use of their bicycles and cars.

"I said something about needing a car because of my beekeeping business, which is bike-dependent, and I can't ride a bike with my arm hurting this badly," she said. "I'm blown away by the generosity of people."

Kinsman, who works as an illustrator, said memories of the crash would not stop her from getting on a bicycle again. But to her the incident highlights the need for bike-friendly infrastructure in the city.

"This really, really, really points out to me the importance of protected bike lanes, whether it be a barrier of parked cars between me and the traffic, or white pegs," she said. "I could have been riding in body armor, and somebody could still have come over to me and thrown me off balance, maliciously."

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