Tomorrow’s Chicago Ride of Silence Honors Fallen Cyclists

The silent process is part of a worldwide movement to call attention to traffic violence.

Last year's Chicago Ride of Silence visited the ghost bike for Jezniah Smith, who was fatally struck at Division and Humboldt. Photo: Chicago Ride of Silence
Last year's Chicago Ride of Silence visited the ghost bike for Jezniah Smith, who was fatally struck at Division and Humboldt. Photo: Chicago Ride of Silence

This Wednesday, May 16, dozens of cyclists will convene on Daley Plaza after work for a group ride, but unlike Critical Mass, it won’t be a loud, raucous celebration. Instead, the event, called the Ride of Silence, will be wordless and contemplative, as the participants honor cyclists who have lost their lives to traffic violence in our city.

The Chicago event is part of the worldwide Ride of Silence movement, which pays tribute to those who have been injured or killed by drivers, and raises awareness of motorists’ obligation to safely share the road. The first Ride of Silence took place in Dallas in 2003 after a passing bus driver fatally struck endurance cyclist Larry Schwartz with a rearview mirror on an otherwise empty road. The first local ride happened in 2005, and now more than a dozen events take place in Illinois.

The Chicago route map.
The Chicago route map.

The Chicago ride gathers at 6 p.m. in Daley Plaza, 50 West Washington, by the Eternal Flame. At 6:30 the group will proceed west to visit the white-painted “ghost bike” memorial for Louis Ray Smith, who was fatally struck by a car driver on the 100 block of North Homan on June 5, 2017. The procession will then head northeast to visit the ghost bike for Lisa Kuivinen, who was struck and killed by a truck driver on the 800 block of North Milwaukee on August 16, 2016.

The map for the ride honors several other cyclists who were fatally struck near the route. These include Jacqueline M. Michon, Blaine Klingenberg, Clinton Miceli, Neill Townsend, Patrick Thomas Stack, Robert “Bobby” Cann, Alicia Frantz, and Joseph “Jay Korner.

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A participant who was injured on his bike gets a red armband. Photo: Chicago Ride of Silence

The ride will end at a post-ride gathering at Keating Law Offices, 825 North Milwaukee, near the Chicago Avenue Blue Line station. (If the ride is rained out, the gathering will still take place.) The ride and gathering are free and all are welcome to participate. Participants are encouraged to wear black armbands, as well as red armbands for those who have been victims of traffic violence. Helmets are required.

This year’s local event is being organized in cooperation with the city of Chicago as part of the city’s Vision Zero initiative to eliminate serious and fatal crashes. The ride will visit East Garfield Park, one of the current Vision Zero focus communities.

Last year the ride visited the ghost bike for Anastasia Kondrasheva, who was fatally struck at Addison and Damen. Photo: Chicago Ride of Silence
Last year the ride visited the ghost bike for Anastasia Kondrasheva, who was fatally struck at Addison and Damen. Photo: Chicago Ride of Silence

Vision Zero outreach workers will be present at the post-ride gathering with information and the Vision Zero pledge for participants to sign. “The Chicago Ride of Silence and Vision Zero Chicago both believe that one death on our roads is one too many,” said local ROS organizer Elizabeth Adamczyk via email. “The Chicago Ride of Silence supports the Vision Zero Chicago efforts to eliminate traffic fatalities and especially protect our most vulnerable road users.”

“Vision Zero is not only about investing funds for initiatives and infrastructure projects, but also about education and awareness and fostering a culture of safety,” added Romina Castillo, a former leader of the bike equity group Slow Roll Chicago who is currently working as a consultant to the city on the Vision Zero program. “Elizabeth reached out to our Vision Zero team to partner this year with the ride. We are supporting with the education side of it as we engage with riders around Vision Zero.”

  • skelter weeks

    It appears most deaths happen on busy arterials. When was the last time someone riding a bike was struck and killed by a motor vehicle on a quiet, residential street?

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