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Cyclist Overwhelmed by Kindness From Strangers After SUV Attack

By Erica Demarest | August 21, 2013 11:31am | Updated on August 21, 2013 1:56pm
 Jana Kinsman, 27, said she was attacked while riding her bicycle in Logan Square early Tuesday.
Jana Kinsman
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LOGAN SQUARE — In the 24 hours after cyclist Jana Kinsman was attacked by a passenger in an SUV, she’s fielded calls from England and Canada, optometrists and herbalists.

“The kindness is overwhelming,” said Kinsman, the 27-year-old beekeeper and illustrator behind Bike a Bee.

People across the country have offered Kinsman free meals, free bikes and help with her medical bills. By mid-day Wednesday, after just 13 hours, an online fundraising campaign had raised nearly $5,000.

“I’ve never experienced this kind of generosity,” Kinsman said Wednesday.

Kinsman was assaulted just after midnight Tuesday as she rode through Logan Square to check on a friend's cat. An SUV rushed Kinsman near North Kimball and West Wrightwood avenues. She said someone inside grabbed her messenger bag and dragged her until she hit a parked car.

The men in the car were “laughing like it was a game or something,” she said. The man who grabbed the bag lost his grip and she fell to the ground — hitting her hip hard before bouncing onto the left side of her body. Kinsman was badly bruised and her bike was damaged.

surveillance video obtained by DNAinfo Chicago shows people rushing to help her after the crash.

As word of the attack spread through social media, Kinsman’s phone rang off the hook.

“I had a stranger call me yesterday,” Kinsman said. “He was like ‘Hey, I live in Chicago, and I want to give you a bike. I’ll let you borrow my bike whenever you need it.’

“I didn’t know him at all, and it’s just the nicest thing for anybody to do that.”

An optometrist offered a free eye exam and replacement glasses when he heard that Kinsman’s had gotten scratched. And an acupuncturist and herbalist promised free healing sessions.

“People want to pay for my bike repairs, but bike shops want to fix my bike for free,” Kinsman said.

Ruth Ann Wiesner, who owns RAW Marketing and offered to help Kinsman, said she sympathized with her fellow small business owner.

"It's hard enough to run a grassroots business such as Bike a Bee," Wiesner said. "But to then have the most intricate necessity of your business destroyed through a senseless act such as this — it truly struck a cord with me."

Late Tuesday night, Hilary Kearney, the 27-year-old who owns Girl Next Door Honey in San Diego, started a GiveForward campaign to help cover Kinsman’s medical costs. Kinsman doesn’t have health insurance, but needed X-rays and a trip to the emergency room.

By the time Kearney woke up Wednesday morning, the campaign had already exceeded its $1,000 goal.

“I didn’t think that it would be quite so fast, but I knew the response would be huge,” said Kearney, who’s never met Kinsman, but bonded with the fellow beekeeper through emails and Facebook.

“Jana’s a kindred spirit," Kearney said. "I wish [the attack] didn’t happen, but since it did, I wanted to make up for it."

Kinsman on Wednesday said she’s feeling better, but still can’t move her arm well. She’s borrowing a friend’s car, and plans to check on her beehives Thursday.

Calling Chicago “the city of big shoulders,” Kinsman said she’s grateful for the support — but not entirely surprised. Bike a Bee was funded through the crowdsourcing site Kickstarter.

“I was really bummed out and hurt about what the drivers and the people in the car did to me,” Kinsman said. But “to see how wonderful people are — this is above and beyond wonderful. It’s so amazing to me.”

Letterform's Julie Morelli teamed with graphic designer Frances MacLeod to create an original print for Kinsman. In the center of a yellow card, a bee rides a bicycle. The card reads: "You're the queen of hearts. Sorry people are s----y."

"We both ride our bikes every single day, and as women, we just felt so upset — mad and upset," MacLeod, 23, said. "It can feel dangerous at times anyway, and then to know that something like this happened to one of our friends..."

MacLeod said Kinsman was "a tough lady. I really like that about her."

Kinsman has been posting progress reports on Twitter and Facebook. Donations can be made directly to Bike a Bee.