Eyes on the Street: RYB Fest — A Memorial Ride for Blaine Klingenberg

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The ride on Michigan Avenue in the Loop. A display of flowers spelling “RYB” was carried on a cargo bike similar to the one Klingenberg rode. Photo: John Greenfield

About 200 people on bikes filled the streets of Chicago today to honor fallen bike courier Blaine “Beezy” Klingenberg during RYB Fest. The bike ride and barbecue was described by organizers as “a day of remembrance and celebration, and to remind all that bicyclists should also be viewed as equals when riding on the road.”

Klingenberg, 29, was fatally struck by a double-decker tour bus driver on Wednesday, June 15, during the evening rush at Michigan Avenue and Oak Street, while on his way to meet up with friends at Oak Street Beach. A native of Bakersfield, California, he moved to Chicago to join buddies who already lived here and pursue his dream of becoming a big-city bike courier, according to his girlfriend Maja Perez, 28, who followed him soon afterwards.

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Blaine Klingenberg. Photo: Facebook

Klingenberg worked for Advanced Messenger Service, delivering envelopes and packages via a large yellow, Danish-style cargo bike. Employers and colleagues have described him as a hardworking, likable, and safety-minded courier. Read more about his case here.

RYB Fest, named after the hashtag #RideYourBike or #RideYoBike, was organized by family members, friends, and the Chicago Bike Messenger Association. According to the organizers, the purpose was “to raise awareness of insecurities in bike infrastructure, the presence and vulnerability of cyclists on the streets, and celebrate the life that Beezy brought to all of us.”

The ride met at Humboldt Park’s formal garden, headed downtown to stop at some of Klingenberg’s favorite standby spots, and proceeded up Michigan to the crash site. Afterwards, the group headed northwest to riverside Richard Clark Park for the barbecue and trail riding at The Garden, a dirt jump course within the park.

Far too many people have been injured and killed on bikes in northeast Illinois in recent weeks. In addition to being a fitting tribute to a man widely described as a terrific person, RYB Fest was a reminder that we have much more work to do before Chicago streets are safe for all road users.

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The ride gathers in Humboldt Park. Photo: John Greenfield
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Riders were asked to take photos with the hashtag #WeCanRideHere and post them on social media. Photo: John Greenfield
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Rolling under the flag arches on the Paseo Boricua Puerto Rican business strip. Photo: John Greenfield
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The ride stopped at the pavilion at Michigan and Oak, next to the crash site. Photo: John Greenfield
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Riders displayed flags with an image of Klingenberg’s cargo bike and banners that read “R.Y.B.” modeled after B.O.B. trailer banners. Photo: John Greenfield
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The barbecue at Richard Clark Park, next to The Garden dirt jump course. Photo: John Greenfield

See more of John’s photos from RYB Fest here.

More photos of the ride are being posted on the Facebook page for the event.

Streetsblog Chicago will resume publication on Tuesday, July 5. The site will be on vacation the week of July 11-15. Have a safe and happy Forth of July.

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