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'For Bobby:' Critical Mass Rides in Memory of Fallen Cyclist

By Quinn Ford | June 1, 2013 9:27am | Updated on June 1, 2013 10:29am
 Hundreds of 'Critical Mass' cyclists paused along their route Friday evening to remember avid rider Bobby Cann, who was struck by a car and killed while riding his bike Wednesday.
Critical Mass Cyclists Ride "For Bobby"
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CHICAGO — Hundreds of cyclists in Friday's Critical Mass bike ride paused in Old Town to remember one of their own.

The cyclists stopped near the intersection of North Clybourn Avenue and North Larrabee Street where a memorial stood to commemorate 26-year-old Bobby Cann, who was struck and killed by a car while riding his bike Wednesday.

Cann, an avid rider, regularly participated in Critical Mass, an organized effort where large groups of cyclists ride en masse on the last Friday of each month.

Cann died almost exactly two weeks to the hour after he rode in the Chicago Ride of Silence, a bike ride to commemorate bikers who have been killed, said Elizabeth Adamczyk, organizer of the ride.

Cann "was a real genuine guy, a real strong advocate" for cyclists, she said. "It's heart-wrenching, really."

Near the spot where Cann was struck, hundreds of riders stopped for a moment of silence Friday.

"For Bobby!" people yelled as they collectively raised their bikes above their heads.

Friends of Cann embraced each other and placed flowers at his memorial as other riders looked on and offered condolences.

Before the ride began, Jordan Horwitz, a close friend of Cann's, said it was his first time riding with Critical Mass but said it was a fitting way to remember his friend.

"Since Bobby's been in Chicago, he's been talking about Critical Mass, so I think it's appropriate that we're here to honor him that way," Horwitz said.

And Horwitz said the ride was a way to help Cann's loved ones grieve.

"Yesterday was a very tough day, and today, it's no different," he said. "There's still moments where you tear up and you think about him, but I think we're trying to transition more into a celebration of life."

Philip Bird, another friend who worked with Cann at REI in Old Town, passed out spoke cards with Cann's photo on them.

Bird, who rides regularly, said it was tough for him to get back on his bike and feel safe riding.

"Bobby was...he was Superman," Bird said. "If this happened to Bobby, it could happen to anyone."

Bird said Cann, who he called an "ambassador of cycling," convinced him to wear a helmet and taught him a lot about the rules of riding.

Zach Markin, of Logan Square, did not know Cann personally. He said a friend convinced him to come on the Critical Mass ride Friday but said his friend backed out of the ride after injuring himself biking to work.

But Markin said he decided to ride after hearing news of Cann's death.

"I felt I should come out anyway and honor Bobby," he said. "My girlfriend and I — we both ride everyday — we're both pretty shaken up."

Markin said he does not feel safe "at all" riding his bike, despite the increase in protected bike lanes around the city. He said he thinks city officials are making an effort but wants to see them "do better."

Friday afternoon, police charged a Park Ridge man with driving under the influence when he struck and killed Cann.

Reacting to the news, Bird said he was definitely disappointed.

"Being intoxicated while driving, it's selfish," he said. "It's sick, but it's not the time to be angry right now."

Horwitz agreed.

"I'm sure anger will come...but I'm just gonna focus on Bobby now," he said.

— Paul Biasco contributed reporting.