Bobby worked at Groupon as an Editorial Tools Specialist. He’d started as a writer, but he taught himself how to write scripts and build tools that would help improve the lives of his coworkers. He biked to work almost every day—through rain, sleet, and snow. Bobby was cycling home on the clear, sunny evening of Wednesday, May 29, when he was hit and killed by a car going in the same direction. The crash happened near the intersection of Larrabee Street and North Clybourn Avenue. Neither street has bike lanes.
Bobby Cann’s bicycle was an extension of himself, like a wing sharply slanting from a swallow. As if in rhythm with wind currents, updrafts, and the miniscule permutations of an invisible flock, Bobby soared, rejoicing, through the streets. He swooped down empty neighborhood roads in the quiet of the night, he elegantly circumvented potholes with an arabesque of his wheel, he whizzed down bike lanes in straight and true lines. Bobby loved riding in snow, in heat, alone and in undulating masses. Bobby talked about the Ride of Silence and Critical Mass bicycle rides like some people talk about church: a way to commune with others, to feel joy and belonging as a participant in Chicago’s culture.
It’s true of life in general, but it’s certainly true of urban cycling: there is no way to control all the elements of your own safety. Bobby prevented harm to himself in every way he could. He always wore a helmet and outfitted his bike with lights. He used hand signals not only to indicate when he turned, but also to point out potholes to fellow cyclists behind him. He carried a patch kit and spare tubes wherever he rode.
Death can come to us at any time. A meteor can come dashing in from a whirling asteroid belt. The very universe could blink off, just as it once blinked on. In a moment, in a breath, it is over. But living under the stars—a miracle and a wonder that Bobby cherished close in his heart—is not inherently dangerous. So it should be with cycling.
— Catherine Bullard
About Active Transportation Alliance
All funds from this page will go to Active Transportation Alliance’s Neighborhood Bikeways Campaign, which aims to equip Chicago and its residents with a 100-mile network of protected bike lanes by 2015. These lanes can reduce crashes and make all modes of transportation safer for everyone.
Active Trans aims to accomplish its goal by organizing residents and business owners at the neighborhood level and educating elected officials and community stakeholders. The group helped organize the first meeting between the city and businesses on Milwaukee Avenue, where the city is now installing a protected bike lane. They have also worked to gain the support of 15 aldermen, who have signed a statement of support for 100 miles of green lanes. With these victories among others, Active Trans comes closer and closer to providing a safer way to get around town.
To learn more about Active Trans’s programs and initiatives, visit their website.