Skip to Content
Streetsblog Chicago home
Streetsblog Chicago home
Log In

Family and Supporters Honored Lisa Schalk Yesterday With a Ghost Bike Memorial

1:02 PM CST on November 20, 2017

Mourners place flowers on the ghost bike for Lisa Schalk. Photo: Chicago Ghost Bikes

Yesterday afternoon a group of 15 family members, friends and supporters gathered to honor fallen cyclist Lisa Schalk, 50, by installing a white-painted "ghost bike" memorial at the Southwest Side crash site. A motorist fatally struck Lisa on her bicycle on the morning of Wednesday, November 1, at the intersection of Archer and Lorel avenues in the Garfield Ridge neighborhood, near Midway Airport. Lisa, a Chicago native, was a mother, a sister, a longtime cyclist, and a friend to many.

Ghost Bikes Chicago contacted the family to organize the memorial, and West Town Bikes donated the bicycle. After we stood on the corner, Lisa’s mother Joan approached, shaking, with tears in her eyes. I held her in my arms as tight as I could, and then I handed her a flower to place on the bike. One by one, each mourner followed suit, attaching a flower to the bike in silence.

A photo of Lisa Schalk taken in 1990.
A photo of Lisa Schalk taken in 1990.

Lisa's brother Mark Schalk broke the silence with a simple, “What happened was terrible -- we will miss her.” The family seemed to still be in shock over their loss, and while not much was said, their sad faces said more than any words could. Then Mark spoke one last time. “I hope the city will do something about this problem. My mom should not have to bury my sister, her daughter, It’s just not right.”

After all the flowers were placed, the bike was chained to a pole. The family then led a prayer, as if to make their peace with the passing of their loved one.

Afterwards as we stood on Archer Avenue, a broad, four-lane street, people occasionally rode by on bikes, highlighting the need for the city to install bike lanes on this street, which should be a safe, direct cycling route downtown from the Southwest Side. We also need drivers to be held accountable when they injure and kill other road users. (Lisa's family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the motorist, John Mitchell, 79, and his employer, the Aldi grocery store chain.) And we can't stop pushing for safer streets until there's no longer a need for ghost bikes.

Kristen Green is the lead organizer for Ghost Bikes Chicago.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog Chicago

Should a Streetsblog reader “Surrender” to commuting from Rockford to Chicago?

We compare the strengths and weaknesses of driving, and/or riding the train or bus, from the Forest City to the Windy City.

February 23, 2024

Metra orders battery-powered trains, gets funding for new bilevel passenger cars

As Metra's board authorized the purchase of eight battery-powered Stadler train sets, the FTA announced the railroad will get $100M to purchase 50 bi-level rail cars.

February 22, 2024

Good karma for a pickup truck driver: Motorist helps save an endangered Green Line rider from serious injury

It was chicken soup for the sustainable transportation reporter's soul to hear of a quick-thinking motorist protecting a CTA user from grievous harm.

February 21, 2024
See all posts