Parents of 3-year-old Lily Shambrook hope lawsuit improves safety for Chicago cyclists

Lily was killed last year while on her mother’s bike maneuvering around a ComEd truck parked in a bike lane. Lily fell out of her seat and under a passing semi-truck.

SHARE Parents of 3-year-old Lily Shambrook hope lawsuit improves safety for Chicago cyclists
Lily Shambrook and her parents Tim Shambrook and Kate Snow. Lily was killed June 9, 2022, while her mother and father biked down Leland Avenue.

Lily Shambrook and her parents Tim Shambrook and Kate Snow. Lily was killed June 9, 2022, while her mother and father biked on Leland Avenue in Uptown. “People have to care,” they said.

Provided photo

The parents of Elizabeth Grace “Lily” Shambrook, the 3-year-old killed by a truck driver as they biked in Uptown last year, hope that a lawsuit they filed Tuesday will improve safety for all bicyclists.

Lily’s parents said they continue to see drivers block bike paths, despite the attention called to the issue after their daughter’s death last June while she and her mother maneuvered around a ComEd truck parked in a bike lane.

“[O]ur little Lily paid the ultimate price for others’ misconduct and disregard for the safety of bicyclists,” the girl’s parents, Tim Shambrook and Kate Snow, said in a statement. “People have to care. The city has to care. Corporations have to care.”

Lily was killed June 9 while her mother and father biked down Leland Avenue. Lily was in a carrier seat on the rear of her mother’s bike. They were headed to drop her off at day camp.

As they approached Winthrop Avenue, a parked ComEd truck blocked the bike lane and Lily’s mother had to go around, squeezing her bike between the utility truck and a semi-truck stopped at the intersection, according to a police report.

The semi started moving and knocked Lily’s mother off balance. Lily was thrown off the bike and under the wheels of the semi.

The 10-count lawsuit, filed in Cook County, alleges negligence against the truck driver and the truck’s owners, Mondelez and Penske, and also ComEd, which owned the truck parked in the bike lane. The suit also alleges misconduct by the city of Chicago, claiming it did not do enough to prevent the tragedy.

Richard F. Burke Jr. a partner with the Clifford Law Offices, right, speaks to reporters about a lawsuit filed on the behalf of the Shamrock family for the death of their three-year-old girl in a biking accident, at the Clifford Law Offices, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023.

Richard F. Burke Jr. a partner with the Clifford Law Offices, right, is representing the Shambrook family in its lawsuit against Mondelez and Penske, the firms that owned the semi-truck that struck Lily Shambrook; ComEd, owner of the truck parked in the bike lane; and the city of Chicago.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

New details released in the lawsuit show that ComEd’s work permit, issued by the city, allowed the company to park on Winthrop but not Leland, where the company’s truck was parked and Lily was hit.

Lily’s parents said they would continue their commitment to “making Chicago a safer biking community so that her death wasn’t in vain.”

“Hopefully, this lawsuit will open the eyes of many because we would never want this tragedy to happen to any other family anywhere,” they said.

The street where Lily was killed is designated a greenway by the city. Those streets, which make up about 1% of all city streets, are supposed to be friendly to bikes and pedestrians.

But that greenway was anything but safe the day Lily was killed, according to Christina Whitehouse, founder of the advocacy group Bike Lane Uprising.

Lily’s parents were forced into traffic because the ComEd truck was parked illegally in a bike lane, Whitehouse said. City law prohibits anyone older than 12 from riding on a sidewalk.

And the semi-truck that struck Lily was allowed to drive on the greenway, she said. No city law prohibited that.

Christina Whitehouse with Bike Lane Uprising, speaks to reporters about a lawsuit filed on the behalf of the Shamrock family for the death of their three-year-old girl in a biking accident, at the Clifford Law Offices, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023.

Christina Whitehouse, founder of Bike Lane Uprising, speaks to reporters about a lawsuit filed on behalf of the family of Lily Shambrook.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

“Lily’s death was not an accident. The factors that led to her death were known problems, and they were preventable,” Whitehouse said at a news conference announcing the lawsuit.

Whitehouse’s group tracks vehicles illegally parked in bike lanes. In the last few years, the group has logged about 50 instances of ComEd vehicles parked in bike lanes, she said.

Years ago, Whitehouse engaged ComEd and the city on Twitter, calling out the company for its frequent parking violations. The company then said it would address the problem of its drivers parking in bike lanes, she said. But it’s unclear if that ever happened.

Bradley Cosgrove, partner of Clifford Law Offices, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the family, said they hope to figure out whether ComEd ever addressed those complaints.

Lily was one of three young children killed by motorists in June last year. Days earlier, 2-year-old Rafi Cardenas was struck and killed by a driver while riding a mini-scooter in Lincoln Square. Also killed was 11-year-old Ja’lon James, who was struck by a driver in a hit and run in Lawndale.

Lily Grace Shambrook; A memorial at Winthrop and Leland avenues, where 3-year-old Lily was killed in a bicycle crash.

Lily Shambrook, left, and a memorial at Winthrop and Leland avenues, where Lily was killed in a bicycle crash.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times; provided photo of Lily Grace

In the wake of Lily’s death, the City Council passed an ordinance in December to raise the fine for parking in a bike lane to $250. The law also made it easier to fine and tow drivers parked in bike lanes and required companies to place signs whenever a bike lane is blocked for construction.

The lawsuit also alleges the city of Chicago failed to consider several factors when issuing a work permit to ComEd, including how the number and size of work trucks could affect traffic.

ComEd, Mondelez, Penske and the City of Chicago declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The Latest
This spring, Venezuelans also are playing at Farragut, Mather, Clemente and Kelly among other schools, using the sport as a way to make friends and find a sense of normalcy at a time of great change in their lives.
Art
A founder in 1971 of the Where We At artists collective for Black women, Ringgold became a social activist, frequently protesting the lack of representation of Black and female artists in American museums.
From 2018 to 2020, Black women in Illinois were three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related medical conditions than white women. This initiative aims to make improvements.
Here are some tips for building a routine to calm anxieties about the start of a new workweek.
They seem like a great match but the man keeps putting off an actual date, saying he’s intimidated.