The Chicago cycling community is on alert after one of the city's bike-based business founders was attacked by men in an SUV while riding in Logan Square.
Jana Kinsman, 27, said she was heading northbound on Kimball Avenue just after 12 a.m. Tuesday and crossed over Wrightwood Avenue when a purple Chevy Tahoe SUV pulled up alongside her.
Kinsman wrote via Twitter the SUV sped up to come close enough to "physically [touch] my body" before a man in the backseat on the passenger side reached out and grabbed her messenger bag.
"They're yelling angrily at me but also laughing," Kinsman wrote, describing how the man, still holding on to her bag, pulled her and her bike alongside the speeding SUV.
Only when she crashed into a parked car did she say the man let go and drove off.
Kinsman, who founded the bicycle-based community beekeeping business Bike-A-Bee and is an avid cyclist and cycling advocate, was treated at an area hospital for contusions, cuts and road rash to her legs, arms and hips.
By Wednesday, Kinsman notched a significant victory when she said police reclassified her case as "aggravated battery" (i.e. an attack in which a "deadly weapon" is involved). According to the Illinois Bike Advocate, "there's precedent for a motor vehicle being treated as a deadly weapon under Illinois law."
Before the case was reclassified, attorney Jim Freeman, who specializes in bicycle-related incidents said "I get frustrated because CPD doesn't seem to take [these incidents] seriously"
Freeman, who told HuffPost Kinsman has consulted with him, added "police normally don't charge motorists with a felony hit-and-run. Usually it's a misdemeanor 'failure to stop and render aid.'"
Even in hit-and-runs, Freeman said in his 13 years of experience, CPD often doesn't follow up on the case if the victim can't positively identify the perpetrator. "Ultimately, there must be an in-court identification or else any defense attorney in their right mind will get their client off free."
Freeman said if there are cameras in the area operated by Chicago police or the Chicago Department of Transportation, images can be pulled with a FOIA request; images must be subpoenaed for cameras operated by the Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC). In the mean time, DNAinfo Chicago on Wednesday morning posted private surveillance video they obtained of people coming to Kinsman's aid after the attack.
The CPD's willingness to reclassify the case, however, has bolstered efforts to identify and prosecute Kinsman's attackers.
"This is a case of assault," said Ethan Spotts of the Active Transportation Alliance, telling ABC Chicago, what happened to Kinsman is more about criminal conduct than conflict between cars and bikes.
"That's part of the problem is that we're not thinking of each other as people on the streets," Spotts said.
Kinsman, who is a freelance illustrator and designer in addition to running Bike-A-Bee, said her bike was badly damaged and is unrideable for the time being.
"That's a huge problem for my business," Kinsman told DNAinfo Chicago. "I can't go beekeeping now."
With difficulty writing due to her injuries, Kinsman said she's relying on her intern and friends to help her maintain the business until she recovers. Friends have already set up a fundraising page to help with Kinsman's bike repairs and medical expenses.
"What still has me sobbing with rage is the violation of my entire being," Kinsman said Tuesday via Twitter. "I could have been killed by these guys in a car. Who reaches out of a car to try and kill a cyclist thinkin [sic] they're just having some fun?"
Full disclosure: Author Kim Bellware is personally acquainted with Kinsman.