NORTH CENTER — Family, friends and Chicago's cycling community gathered Friday night to pay their respects to Anastasia Kondrasheva, the cyclist who was fatally hit while riding her bicycle in North Center Monday.
"She was a sweet person who would do anything for anyone," said Erin Rosen, a patient at Harken Center, where Kondrasheva was employed as a health coach. "She helped me get healthy. We'd go for walks after my sessions. I only knew her for a few months, but we became friends."
Kondrasheva, 23, was riding a bike north on Damen Avenue south of Addison Street about 7:50 a.m. Monday when a flatbed truck driving next to her made a right turn onto Addison Street, hitting her in the process, said Officer Bari Lemmon, a Chicago police spokeswoman.
The driver of the truck was issued a ticket for failing to exercise due care to a pedestrian in the roadway, police said.
"We have to make street safety a priority in the days and months ahead. We hope you will all join us to demand safe streets now," Rebecca Resman of Chicago Family Biking, who organized the event, said at the vigil. "Today, we are going to surround her family, friends, and her memory in love."
During the vigil, mourners held candles at the four corners of the intersection of Damen Avenue and Addison Street. A ghost bike, which symbolizes the death of a cyclist, was chained to the corner where Kondrasheva was fatally hit. Cyclist group Critical Mass led a ride northbound on Damen Avenue after the vigil. Kondrasheva's family and boyfriend attended the vigil.
Scott E. Long uses his bike to commute from his home in Logan Square to his job in Hyde Park at the University of Chicago's bookstore. He told DNAinfo that he thinks of the dangers of riding his bicycle in the city often.
"That's just second nature. I put about 5000 miles a year on my bicycle on the city streets. You constantly have that awareness," Long said. "When you pass by a spot like this, it is a reminder of what can happen, and sadly, what does happen. I've had the occasional incidents where I've had tumble, along with a few close calls."
Last month, Chicago beat out New York City and was named the "Best Bike City" in America by Bicycling magazine. The magazine credited the city for its commitment to expanding bike lanes, adding the Divvy bike network, new public paths like the 606 Bloomingdale Trail and the ongoing rollout of protected bike lanes in Chicago.
Annie Gersch, a Logan Square resident, did not know Kondrasheva. She heard about the vigil from a Facebook post.
"It's terrible. She was so young. This is a constant problem in this city," Gersch said. "Death gets the attention but people are getting in accidents and getting seriously injured every single day and drivers are getting away with it. Bikers are getting screwed."
The fatal crash was the latest in a series of cycling deaths this year stemming from collisions between cars or trucks and cyclists.
Last month, a 20-year-old man riding a bicycle along Irving Park Road near Marmora Avenue was critically injured when he was hit by an SUV. In August, Francisco Cruz, 58, was killed by a car while biking in the 4000 block of West Maypole Avenue and 20-year-old Lisa Kuivinen was struck and killed by a truck on Milwaukee Avenue.
Resman issued a challenge to lawmakers, police, drivers, bicyclists and all Chicagoans to make this memorial the last of its kind.
"This was preventable and we need to unite everyone. People that drive, people that bike, the police, lawmakers," Resman said. "We all need to gather and we all need to fix this."
Official participants in the vigil included Chicago Family Biking, Ghost Bikes Chicago, Chicago Ride of Silence, Chicago Critical Mass and the victim’s family.
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