Thanks to a Streetsblog Reader, Fallen Cyclist Bobby Cann’s Memorial Sign Is Back in Place

Bobby Cann's October 2013 memorial. Photo: Steven Vance
Bobby Cann's October 2013 memorial. Photo: Steven Vance

In October 2013, dozens of loved ones and friends of fallen cyclist and Groupon Employee Bobby Cann gathered at the intersection of Clybourn and Larrabee to pay their respects. That May Cann, 26, had been struck and killed at the intersection by motorist Ryne San Hamel who was driving roughly twice the speed limit with a blood-alcohol level also about double the legal limit. San Hamel eventually pled guilty to reckless homicide and aggravated DUI, but was sentenced to a mere ten days in jail.

During the memorial, one of the Chicago’s brown honorary street signs was installed at the northwest corner of the intersection, declaring it “Honorary Bobby Cann Way.” Google Street View images show that the signs was still in place as recently as July 2018.

In late February a Streetsblog Chicago reader, who commutes daily via the curb-protected bike lanes that were installed on Clybourn in the wake of Cann’s death, contacted us to say the sign was missing. He suspected it might have been removed due to a Chicago ordinance passed in 2017 that causes honorary street signs to “sundown” after five years.

The legislation states:

[An honorary street sign] designation shall expire five years after the date of ordinance passage unless renewed… Once five years has expired the [Chicago] Department of Transportation shall remove the sign. An alderman wishing to renew a design shall propose an ordinance requesting the renewal. the renewal shall be for five years.

Since the tribute to Cann was installed more than five years ago, it was possible that CDOT took it down, but department spokesman Mike Claffey told me that wasn’t the case. “CDOT did not remove it … we had no info on what happened.”

Another possibility was that the sign was removed during a late February filming session on the block for the TV series “Chicago Fire.”

27th Ward alderman Walter Burnett introduced the ordinance for Cann’s sign, and his assistant Reginald Stewart arranged for its installation during the October 2013 memorial. Stewart, who happens to be a former CDOT sign shop worker, told me today that Burnett hadn’t requested the removal. “Somebody probably stole it,” he said, adding that he would ask CDOT to reinstall.

But that wasn’t necessary, though, because earlier today Claffey told me the sign shop had already fabricated a new sign for Cann and installed it on Thursday. “In response to your inquiry, they replaced it,” he said.

The new honorary street sign for Bobby Cann, located at the southeast corner of Clybourn and Larrabee. Photo: Marcus Moore
The new honorary street sign for Bobby Cann, located at the northeast corner of Clybourn and Larrabee. Photo: Marcus Moore

Hopefully it will be a small comfort to Cann’s family and friends to know that, almost six years after his tragic death, the Chicago bike community still cares about keeping his memory alive.

  • what_eva

    I’m now totally confused. I thought I saw it missing on 2/25, the day before that Chicago Fire tweet, but then I saw it and took a picture on 3/4 (the picture is posted in the comments on this post: https://chi.streetsblog.org/2019/02/25/todays-headlines-for-monday-february-25/ ). So I’m not sure it wasn’t there on 2/25, I might have missed it. However, that was the NW corner. Was there previously one on the SE corner that was missing? What happened this Thursday?

  • kastigar

    Did San Hamel get his car back?

    Twice in the last year I’ve gotten a flat in the protected bike lane on Clyborn,. I’ve seen several cyclist riding outside the protected lane because it is filled with junk, broken glass and other debris. I’m not longer a supporter of protected bike lanes, I’ll ride in traffic with the same entitlement as cars.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    Sorry, the caption on the last photo in this post previously said the new sign that was installed on Thursday was placed on the southeast corner of the intersection, but it was actually the northeast corner. I’ve corrected the caption. The original sign was on the northwest corner. It seems unlikely CDOT would have installed the new sign if the old one was still in place, but I’ll double check that.

  • what_eva

    I went by again tonight. I’m pretty sure that picture is the same sign on the NW corner, but the picture was taken standing right in front of the medical center as that graffiti-ed building is the NE corner, but the sign is really close and there are other stoplights further away across the street. ie, it’s the same sign but pointing in the opposite direction from my picture from 2 weeks ago. There is definitely not a second sign.

    I’m confused as to what CDOT thinks they did last Thursday.

    I’m still unsure if it was actually missing on 2/25 or if I just missed it because it wasn’t where I thought it was (my faulty memory) or if it was actually gone that day. It was definitely there on 3/4 and was in the same place tonight.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

An Update on the Bobby Cann Case

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While the criminal case against Ryne San Hamel, the motorist who killed cyclist Robert “Bobby” Cann while allegedly drunk and speeding, slowly progresses, attorneys for the victim’s family are getting ready to file a wrongful death lawsuit against San Hamel, said Kate Conway, an attorney with Power Rogers & Smith. The firm is investigating the […]