LOGAN SQUARE — The cyclist who launched the Bike a Bee project to put beehives in community gardens was injured in Logan Square early Tuesday when a passenger in an SUV pulled alongside her, grabbed her messenger bag and pulled her down the road.
Jana Kinsman, 27, had been heading north on Kimball Avenue to check on a friend's cat in Albany Park just after midnight. As Kinsman passed Wrightwood Avenue, an SUV rushed her.
“A car pulled up really close next to me — this big maroon-purple Tahoe — and it was pushing me against the [parked] cars and I couldn’t do anything," Kinsman said. "I couldn’t brake or swerve. I was pinned between this moving car and this other car."
Someone reached from the rear passenger-side window, Kinsman said, and grabbed her messenger bag, which was slung across her back.
"I started screaming. I didn't know what else to do," said Kinsman, who said she's been cycling in Chicago for about six years. "I could hear them laughing like it was a game or something.”
After a few seconds, Kinsman's bike smacked into a parked car. The man lost his grip on Kinsman and she fell to the ground — hitting her hip hard before bouncing onto the left side of her body.
Bystanders rushed to help Kinsman, who laid on the ground until police, paramedics and her roommate, Brent, arrived.
“My arm hurt really bad, and I was too scared to move," she said.
Kinsman, an avid cyclist who works as a beekeeper and freelance illustrator, doesn't have health insurance. She turned down an expensive ambulance ride in lieu of a taxi trip to Swedish Covenant Hospital. She was badly bruised, doctors said, but no bones were broken.
Police have classified the incident, which happened about 12:20 a.m., as a hit-and-run, said Officer John Mirabelli, a Chicago Police Department spokesman. No one was in custody Tuesday, and witnesses were not able to provide a license plate number of the SUV.
As she walked through her yard Tuesday morning, Kinsman had trouble moving her left arm and shoulder. Cuts and bruises lined her legs, arms and hips.
"This is such a violation of my self — of my personal space," she said. "As a cyclist, you can do everything to make yourself safe, but if someone actively wants to hurt you — and they think it’s a game — there’s no helmet or light or path that will stop that."
In January 2012, Kinsman started Bike a Bee, a beekeeping project that places beehives in community gardens across the city. After a rough start, her hives are thriving. But Kinsman relies on cycling to tend to the far-spread hives.
After Tuesday's incident, she can't support weight on her left arm. Her bike's front wheel needs new rims and spokes, and its fork and headset may have been damaged as well.
That's "a huge problem for my business," Kinsman said. "I can't go beekeeping now."
For now, she's relying on interns and friends to get around.
"It’s this really sad way that the world works," Kinsman said. "I can’t afford a car, so therefore I took my bike places, and therefore that leaves me vulnerable to people f---ing with me.
"I don’t have the luxury of being like, 'Well, I take that risk by riding my bike, so I can definitely pay the hospital bills because it’s a chosen risk that I take.' That’s awful."
Kinsman said she plans to reach out to an attorney, activists and the alderman, possibly to push for more protected bike lanes. She was still shell-shocked Tuesday and feeling "violated," but "this is one of those things that people gotta hear about it because it’s really messed up.
"I can’t learn anything from this. ... The only preventative measure from this happening again is to just never ride your bike or be outside. I wasn’t doing anything wrong."