CHICAGO — Groupon has launched a tribute and campaign to raise funds for protected bike lanes in Chicago in the wake of the death of its former employee Bobby Cann, who was struck and killed by a car last week.
The daily deals site launched the "For Bobby" deal at midnight Tuesday, and more than 1,300 people had "purchased" the $10 donation by Wednesday afternoon.
One hundred percent of funds raised will go to Active Transportation Alliance's Neighborhood Bikeways Campaign.
"We thought [the deal] was something that lined up really, really well with an issue that Bobby was passionate about," said Bill Roberts, Groupon's director of communications. "It’s an opportunity to do something that has the potential to have a meaningful and long-term impact on the safety of cyclists in Chicago."
Less than 12 hours after the deal went live, a donor pledged to match the first $10,000 raised, according to a company spokesman.
"The response has been incredible," Roberts said.
Groupon spoke with Cann's family about the fundraising deal, and they were "very supportive," Roberts said.
The campaign to which the funds will go seeks to create a 100-mile network of protected bike lanes by 2015 by organizing residents and business owners and educating city officials.
Cann, a 26-year-old who worked in Groupon's editorial department, was riding home from work on his bike May 29 when he was struck by a Mercedes, according to police.
Both Cann and the Benz were headed south on North Clybourn Avenue near North Larrabee Street. The roadway does not have a bike lane, although it is designated as a bike route by the city.
The Mercedes driver, 28-year-old Ryne San Hamel, has been charged with driving under the influence.
The roadway where the crash occurred is one that the alliance and other cycling advocates in the city have targeted for protected lanes since launching a campaign at the start of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's term in 2011.
"It's absolutely been on our radar," said Rebecca Resman, director of membership and development for the alliance. "We are hoping to see some kind of infrastructure there as soon as possible."
The city plans to install a buffered bike lane on Clybourn Avenue this construction season, according to the alliance.
"It’s a shame it hasn’t gone in yet," Resman said.
Groupon approached the alliance after the accident with the question of "What can we do?"
"They really wanted to lead an effort to raise money to make our streets safer, so something like this doesn't happen in the future," Resman said.
Cann's death has cast a shadow over the alliance office, Resman said.
While the organization has made progress toward the 100-mile goal by the end of Emanuel's term, it has a way to go.
So far 11.65 miles of protected lanes and 18.45 miles of buffered bike lanes have been created.
"We are excited we have a lot of improvements that we feel we have been a part of making happen. But when there is a tragedy [such as] in the case of Bobby, it reminds us that our work is not done," Resman said. "We all take it a little personally as does everyone in the bicycling community."