Blaine "Beezy" Klingenberg
Chicago, d. 15.June.2016

Blain Klingenberg


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

        Klingenberg memorial

Blaine's Obituary:
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 and love.
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 urban cycling.
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 Beach.
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 Drive).
"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, she says.
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 this world."
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 Street underpass.
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 traffic cleared."
"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 mistake.
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 beach underpass.
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 Chicago.

Bicyclist Blaine Klingenberg Killed On Mag Mile Was A 'Super Nice Guy'
By  Kelly Bauer and David Matthews | DNA info, June 16, 2016
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 the lake?????"
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 Mile Crash

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 said.
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.