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Bobby Cann’s Killer Charged With Reckless Homicide; IDOT Feigns Concern

12:12 PM CDT on June 3, 2013

A memorial for Bobby Cann on Clybourn Avenue.

Robert "Bobby" Cann was cycling on Clybourn Avenue last Wednesday when he was hit and killed by Ryne San Hamel, 28, of Park Ridge, driving a Mercedes sedan at 50 MPH, with a blood-alcohol content of .127, according to police. San Hamel appeared in court on Saturday where he was charged with reckless homicide, aggravated DUI, misdemeanor DUI, reckless driving, and failure to stay in the lane. He is being held on $100,000 bond and had his passport revoked.

Attorney Mike Keating provided an excellent summary of what these charges mean on his blog:

Reckless homicide is when a person unintentionally kills another person while behaving recklessly. Unintentionally means that there was no criminal intent to kill the person. Reckless means that the person was acting with total disregard for the safety and welfare of others. The difference between a murder charge and a reckless homicide charge is the idea of "criminal intent" and whether the person was actually setting out to kill the other person. Keep reading.

Bike salute for Robert "Bobby" Cann

On Friday evening, the monthly Critical Mass bike ride passed by a memorial to Cann. Riders raised their bikes in a salute to Cann, held a moment of silence, and then applauded.

On The Chainlink, a discussion has started about the significance of pushing for protected bike lanes across the city, as well as blaming the driver for choosing to get behind the wheel while drunk. The question is, if San Hamel had a BAC of less than 0.08, the legal limit, would he still be blamed for the crash? Would it have just been an "accident" that protected bike lanes might have prevented? A barrier is the only way to protect a bicyclist from a car traveling at 50 mph, whether the driver is drunk or sober.

San Hamel is scheduled to appear at the Cook County courthouse at 26th and California on July 17 at 9 a.m., and 18th District police officers are seeking volunteer court advocates. A post on Velocipede Salon explains that this means "the police coordinate with concerned citizens who appear in court to show their support for the case. The sense is, when the community gets involved it sends a signal to the judge that this isn't 'just another DUI' and helps to encourage stricter sentencing." You can contact the 18th District CAPS officers at 312-742-5778 for more info. Updated: More details on The Chainlink from Active Transportation Alliance's Jason Jenkins.

Bob Kastigar, a longtime Chicago bike activist and Critical Mass rider, has started a petition demanding that the county's top prosecutor, Anita Alvarez, send the case to court instead of making a plea bargain. People from around the United States, and one from Canada, are signing on to have San Hamel stand "in open and public court."

As it stands, the Chicago Department of Transportation can not install protected bike lanes, which shelter cyclists from out-of-control cars, on Clybourn. This is because the Illinois Department of Transportation has prohibited the installation of protected lanes on state jurisdiction roads until CDOT collects three years of "safety data" on existing Chicago PBLs. IDOT has not blocked installation of buffered bike lanes.

Perhaps responding to our coverage of the crash, which mentioned the PBL issue, and/or online discussions that followed on venues like The Chainlink, on Friday IDOT tweeted a two-part message that they support CDOT's efforts to install buffered lanes on Clybourn.

IDOT is touting their support for buffered lanes, mere road striping which offers cyclists little protection from drunk drivers, but they have not changed their policy towards protected and buffered lanes at all in response to Cann's death. They are simply covering themselves. For the agency to profess concern for safety in the wake of the crash without lifting the ban on protected lanes, which might have prevented this tragedy, is blatantly hypocritical.

(1 of 2) IDOT is working with the City of Chicago on its plans to resurface & restripe Clybourn Avenue

— IDOT (@IDOT_Illinois) May 31, 2013

@idot_illinois we appreciate that but we need support for protected bike lanes. Only a barrier could have protected him from 2 tons of steel

— Ransacked Muse (@RansackedMuse) May 31, 2013

IDOT, bike lanes, and Twitter

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