Blaine "Beezy" Klingenberg
Chicago, d. 15.June.2016
Blaine Klingenberg, known as "Beezy" within the
messenger community was a Chicago bike messenger who was killed
in a tragic collision with a Chicago double decker tour bus. He
had just finished work on June 15th, 2016 and was on his way to
Oak Street Beach. Blaine worked as a bike messenger for Advanced
Messenger and Four Star Courier.
It took you 10 minutes of knowing me until you asked me to go to the
beach with you. I've never met anyone that was more stoked. Beezy
Blaine Klingenberg I'm going to miss you. I'll miss hollaring across
4 lanes of traffic at each other. I'll miss hearing you talk about
mowing your lawn. The way you were always stoked on life was
infuriating sometimes but somehow your posi vibes would rub off on
me, and whatever was irritating me at the time didn't seem so bad
anymore. It's an understatement to say you meant a lot to a lot of
people. Thanks for being a bright face in a dark city. RYB
- Rayn Marcotte
Somehow, somewhere Blaine Klingenberg is telling someone how many
runs he did today. ride safe, ride with love, and most of all RYB!!!
- Nico Deportago-Cabrera
Blaine Klingenberg you were a fucking character dude... My favorite
messenger to talk to at the mart straight up... You will be missed
Beezy.... Start seeing cyclists.... Pic from 155 e rand he was
running presents around, thought it was funny... I'm not sure what
to say this is fucking awful RIP Beezy love you dude
- Sonny Kitsune
Well, I feared for the worst and now I'm hearing it's true. One
minute you are smiling and waving at somebody as they pass you and
only a few hours later you find out they were killed doing the one
thing they love, just trying to ride their bike. Rest in power to
Blaine Klingenberg. No matter what anyone said to him, he had a
smile on his face and wanted everyone to feel the same. I'm fucking
heart broken. There's so much I want to type but I can't. To all of
Blaine's friends and family, I'm so sorry.
- Austin O'Brien
We were deeply saddened and shocked to hear of the passing of Blaine
Klingenberg in Chicago yesterday. The warmth of Blaine’s character
is reflected in the memorials sent out by the messenger community
and by his family and friends. We too, far, far away in Europe would
like to add some thoughts and send our deepest condolences to those
who knew and loved him.
Blaine, your character, your riding and your love of life has
touched so many people. As the world mourns your passing, we give
thanks for shared passions, adventures and journeys. It was an
honour to have you as part of the Bullitt family.
- Larry vs Harry cargobikes
Our step dad remembers the first time they met, Blaine was locked
out of the house so he put his foot through the glass and said "I
gave it a karate kick." This was how Blaine based his life.
Blaine, 29,did not need you to accept him, you JUST did. If you know
his name, you knew him... Plain and simple. From the time he
finished school, until he left Bakersfield. We all knew him, whether
it was from a party he hosted, or a BBQ he took over. Blaine MADE
his presence known. "It takes a man to know one" Chicago gave us a
man to be proud of...a man that made a city, in 1 year to respect
Born in 1986 in Bakersfield, to Walter and Beverly. He became a man
in his own rights, finally on the streets of Chicago with his better
half Maja. We have all seen the star that was Blaine, and how bright
it STILL shines. We miss you and love you Brother, Son and Friend.
Blaine is survived by his parents, Walter and Beverly, grandparents
Lloyd and Margie, step-father Geoffrey, siblings Kendel, Corey,
Dalton and Andrew. Nieces Amiya and Kalie and nephew Oliver.
Multiple aunts and uncles, and a whole horde of cousins. And most
importantly his best and brighter half Maja.
Services are a final memorial bike ride, July 17, 2016 (Sunday)
starting at 10:30 am, at Beach Park. Followed by a BBQ in his name
at his uncle Rob's house, 16140 Salmon Bay Ct.
Published in Bakersfield Californian on July 15, 2016
Police blame courier for crash that took his life. Witnesses tell
a different story
– Chicago Reader, June 28, 2016
In exclusive interviews with the Reader, two eyewitnesses say the
bus driver who struck Blaine Klingenberg is at least partly to blame
for the collision.
By John Greenfield
The intersection of Michigan and Oak, at the north end of the
Magnificent Mile, is a complex and intimidating junction. Here,
Michigan is a massive seven-lane boulevard, while Oak is a broad,
two-lane street with turn lanes, lined with pricey boutiques and
luxury high-rises. To the north are on- and off-ramps for Lake Shore
Drive as well as curving roadways leading to and from Inner Lake
Shore Drive. At the northeast corner there's an underpass leading to
the Lakefront Trail and Oak Street Beach. As such, this crossroads
is often filled with a chaotic mix of pedestrians, bike riders,
private cars, taxis, and buses.
Bike courier Blaine "Beezy" Klingenberg, 29, lost his life in the
daunting intersection of Michigan and Oak on Wednesday, June 15,
after being run over and dragged by a double-decker tour bus at the
height of the evening rush. Described by employers and colleagues as
a hard-working, likable, and safety-minded messenger, Klingenberg
has been posthumously reduced to a poster boy for irresponsible
The driver, 51-year-old Charla A. Henry, is employed by Chicago
Trolley & Double Decker Co. She was the second company employee
to fatally strike a vulnerable road user on Michigan Avenue within
the last seven months.
The Chicago Police Department along with major news outlets,
reported that Klingenberg brought on his own death by pedaling
through a red light. But in exclusive interviews with the Reader,
two witnesses say they're convinced the bus driver was at least
partly responsible for Klingenberg's death because she entered the
intersection after the light turned red.
Klingenberg, a native of Bakersfield, California, worked for
Advanced Messenger Service, delivering envelopes and packages via a
large, yellow, Danish-style cargo bike.
On June 15, while he was finishing up the day's runs, he posted on
Facebook, "Who's down for the lake?" According to friends, he
planned to meet up with other couriers after work at Oak Street
Here's the CPD's account of the fatal collision from the crash
report: Around 5:30 PM Klingenberg was riding his cargo bike north
on Michigan. Meanwhile, the bus driver was heading westbound on Oak,
east of Michigan (where Oak is officially called East Lake Shore
"The victim disregarded the light at Oak and turned into the bus,
causing the collision," the crash report stated, laying the blame
squarely on Klingenberg.
Henry ran over Klingenberg, who was dragged and pinned under the
bus's middle-right side. Firefighters had to use large airbags to
lift the bus off him. Klingenberg was rushed to Northwestern
Memorial Hospital and pronounced dead on arrival.
Henry has not been issued traffic citations or charged with a crime.
Initial reports by CBS 2, ABC 7, DNAinfo, and Chicagoist essentially
took the police version at face value.
At least two eyewitnesses tell a different story.
Nursing student Amy Ione Jones, 35, was driving from her nanny job
in Bridgeport to her boyfriend's house in the Gold Coast. As she
drove west on Oak, she entered the Michigan intersection at the tail
end of a yellow light.
To her left she saw the westbound tour bus stopped behind a line of
drivers waiting to turn left on Michigan. The bus's front wheels
were either on or just past the crosswalk, Jones says. She then
turned right onto Inner Lake Shore Drive.
After traveling two or three car lengths, Jones heard someone scream
"No!" and stopped her car. Although Jones did not see the initial
impact, she looked left and saw that the bus driver had run over a
cyclist. She ran over to the "horrific" crash site to try to help,
Since Jones couldn't reach Klingenberg's arm to take his pulse, she
ripped off one of his shoes and socks to search for a pulse on his
foot. "I sat with Blaine's foot in my hand until the fire department
arrived," she says. "I knew that he had passed before they arrived,
but was in total shock and did not want him to be alone as he left
Jones says that she herself had narrowly avoided entering the
intersection on a red. Since the bus was stopped when she passed it,
she's convinced Henry must have blown the stoplight.
"This is totally the bus driver's fault," Jones says. "But the
police and the media automatically blamed the bicyclist."
Another witness who did see the moment of impact also believes
Henry ran the red light. Bruce Boyer, a 55-year-old law professor at
Loyola University, commutes regularly by bike from his Edgewater
home to Loyola's downtown campus via the Lakefront Trail and the Oak
At the time of the crash, Boyer was standing at the southeast corner
of the intersection by the Drake Hotel, waiting to cross north to
the beach underpass with his bike. From there he was able to watch
the entire incident unfold.
Klingenberg was riding north on Michigan past vehicles that were
stopped at the red light, Boyer says. "The biker just passed all of
that stopped traffic and went into the intersection," he recalls,
adding that he definitely saw the courier go through the red.
However, like Jones, Boyer is convinced Henry also ran a red.
"I cannot say with certainty that I saw the color of the [bus
driver's] light as she entered the intersection," he says in an
e-mail. "But I can attest that when the collision occurred, traffic
on southbound Lake Shore Drive had the right of way." He says he
knows this because he saw several eastbound cars on Oak clear the
intersection, while drivers behind them had to stop because their
light went red.
"I then looked [north] to Lake Shore Drive to watch for the traffic
turning in front of me," he says. "It was after I did this that I
saw the biker coming towards the intersection, and then the bus
start moving. I know the bus driver had no right of way because she
did not start moving until seconds after the east-bound Oak Street
"I'm confident that she went into the intersection after the light
turned red," Boyer says. He added that the driver did not seem to
hit the brakes until after she struck the cyclist.
"It's important to me that if anyone's passing judgment, whether
it's in a court, criminal or civil, or just in the court of public
opinion, people should understand what actually happened," he adds.
We have no way of knowing what Klingenberg was thinking as he
approached the junction, or why he decided to proceed through the
intersection the way he did, but a couple of possibilities come to
mind. He may have incorrectly assumed he was about to get a green
light—although Klingenberg's girlfriend, 28-year-old Maja Perez, and
others who knew him say that, as a professional bicyclist familiar
with the city's streetlight patterns, it's unlikely he made that
Alternately, he may have known that traffic from the drive was about
to get a turn signal, so he shouldn't have had to worry about
east-west traffic on Oak, although he would have had to watch out
for vehicles turning north onto the drive from Oak on his way to the
Regardless, running the stoplight might not have cost Klingenberg
his life if Henry had chosen to wait for her next green instead of
proceeding through the intersection.
Chicago police detectives have reviewed video of the crash taken
from an Office of Emergency Management and Communications camera at
the southwest corner of Oak and Michigan, according to a statement
from News Affairs, but have not determined whether or not the bus
driver was at fault. (OEMC denied a FOIA request to access the
footage, arguing that allowing a civilian to see which parts of the
intersection are visible to the camera would undermine efforts to
prevent terrorism and other crimes.)
"Chicago Trolley is fully cooperating with the authorities with
their investigation," the company said in a statement. "Chicago
Trolley takes safety as our top priority. Our thoughts and prayers
go out to all involved.”
Attorney Jim Freeman from the bike-focused firm FK Law (a
Streetsblog sponsor) says his firm plans to file a wrongful death
lawsuit this week against Chicago Trolley and the bus driver on
behalf of Blaine's father, Walter Klingenberg.
"I have seen instances time and time again in which [the Chicago
Police Department] blames a cyclist for a collision when it wasn't
their fault," Freeman posted on Facebook a few days after the crash.
"I guarantee when the truth comes out it won't be as simple as 'the
cyclist blew the red.'"
Perez, who works at nonprofit community bike shops, says she's
currently focusing on ways to honor her boyfriend and ensure that
his short life has a lasting legacy.
On the Friday after the crash, couriers gathered at the southwest
corner of Oak and Michigan to offer a makeshift memorial, including
candles, flowers, and a placard signed by dozens of Klingenberg's
friends and colleagues.
The sign includes the epitaph "RIP RYB"—short for the hashtag
#RideYoBike. Perez taped to the pole a single-serving container of
Frosted Flakes, one of Klingenberg's favorite prework meals, and
wrote on the box, "For you my love—Sorry I didn't bring the milk."
As of late Friday night, the memorial had been taken down, its
contents placed by a nearby recycling bin. But someone had locked a
ghostly white-painted bicycle wheel to the pole with Klingenberg's
nickname, "Beezy," written on the hub.
Perez hopes that as the truth comes out about what happened to
Klingenberg, his name will be cleared and he'll no longer be viewed
as a bicyclist who foolishly bombed an intersection and paid for it
with his life.
After Klingenberg died, Perez's relatives informed her that, during
her brother's wedding last March in Bakersfield, the courier told
them he wanted to propose marriage and asked for their blessing.
"It's unfair Blaine was taken from us so early and by such a
terrible fate," Perez says. "But I will make sure his death will
change people's views on street equality and spark a revolution
towards safer streets." v
John Greenfield edits the transportation news website Streetsblog
Bicyclist Blaine Klingenberg Killed On Mag Mile Was A 'Super Nice
By Kelly Bauer and David Matthews | DNA info, June 16,
CHICAGO — A Logan Square bicyclist killed in a bus crash Wednesday
was a charismatic, friendly man, his boss said.
Blaine Klingenberg, 29, of the 3600 block of West Shakespeare, was
riding his bike when he disobeyed a red light and turned into a bus
at Michigan Avenue and Oak Street, according to police.
Just hours before the accident, Klingenberg had told friends he
wanted to go to Lake Michigan, posting on Facebook, "Who's down for
Those types of posts were typical of Klingenberg, said Bruce Kohn,
the owner of Advanced Messenger Service, where Klingenberg worked.
"Blaine liked to be with people," Kohn said. “Right on his Facebook
page you can tell: Every day when he was done with work he went to a
group of people and posted, ‘Who’s down for this? Who’s down for
that?’ Yesterday he said, ‘Who’s down for the lake?’
“Unfortunately, he made it about 100 yards away from the lake.”
Klingenberg moved to Chicago from California, Kohn said.
Klingenberg's Facebook page was full of photos of him riding his
bike around the city
"It's a terrible thing that happened," Kohn said. Klingenberg was a
"super social, super nice guy."
Kohn said he's still gathering information about the crash and
declined to comment further.
Family of Blaine Klingenberg Sues Bus Company After Fatal Mag
By David Matthews | DNA Info, August 4, 2016
DOWNTOWN — The father of bicyclist Blaine Klingenberg has sued the
double-decker bus driver who struck and killed his son off the
Magnificent Mile two months ago, saying she sped through a red light
at the busy intersection before the deadly collision.
Walter Klingenberg charges in the complaint filed in Cook County
Circuit Court that Charla Henry also failed to "keep an adequate
lookout" and was "otherwise careless and negligent" before hitting
his son at Michigan Avenue and Oak Street.
The complaint, which is backed by four eyewitness accounts,
contradicts the initial police report that Klingenberg disobeyed a
red light at the corner in one of Chicago's busiest shopping strips.
"That's a common theme we see in a lot of bicycle accidents," said
Chicago lawyer Jim Freeman, who's representing the Klingenberg
family in the suit.
Klingenberg, 29, of Logan Square, was a bike courier who was
well-liked and well-respected in the local bicycling community,
Freeman said. Just before his death, Klingenberg posted to Facebook
asking if his friends were "down for the lake."
About 200 people came out for a memorial ride Downtown in honor of
Klingenberg, according to the Reader.
"Everybody in the community knew the guy," Freeman said. "He had
been here a little over a year, but had really become a pillar of
the community in some ways."
Sean Hughes, a representative of Chicago Trolley and Double Decker
Co., which is also a named defendant in the suit, did not
immediately return a message requesting comment. The amount
Klingenberg seeks in the suit will be determined later, Freeman
Police said in June that Klingenberg was riding north on Michigan
Avenue on June 15 when he disobeyed a traffic signal and turned left
into the bus at Oak Street. He was pinned under the bus and taken to
Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on
arrival, police said.
Freeman said he found four eyewitnesses who saw the bus run a red
light as it crossed Michigan Avenue along Oak. Freeman said he also
attempted to retrieve surveillance video from a nearby street
camera, but was "stymied" by the city.
"It's a terrible thing that happened," Bruce Kohn, the owner of the
messenger service where Klingenberg worked, told DNAinfo Chicago in
June, said. Klingenberg "was a super social, super nice guy."
A trial date has yet to be set.