Ghost bike ceremony will honor fallen cyclist Douglas Demott 10/27 in Tinley Park

Douglas DeMott
Douglas DeMott

Family and friends of Douglas Demott, who was fatally struck by an elderly driver in southwest-suburban Tinley Park last January, will gather on Sunday, October 27, at noon to install a white-painted ghost bike memorial at the crash site. The event will begin in the parking lot of the nearby Holiday Inn Chicago-Tinley Park, 18501 Convention Center Dr. Members of the Chicago-area bike community are invited to attend to show their support; you can RVSP on Facebook to let the organizers know how many attendees to expect.

At about 5:30 p.m. on January 24, DeMott, 52, was doing his daily bike commute home to Palos Heights from his job at ProVisur, a machining manufacturer in Mokena, despite cold, windy weather, according to a February report by the Daily Southtown’s Sharon Filkins. He lived with his sister Dione Stolarski and her husband, and she said he was in the habit of putting his bike on the front rack of the Harlem Avenue Pace bus at 127th Street and riding to the end of the line at 183rd Street, and then pedaling  a couple of miles west to his workplace at 9150 W. 91st St.

DeMott was riding northbound at 185th Street and Harlem, just north of Harlem’s I-80 interchange and only only two blocks south of his bus stop, when the motorist, a 93-year-old woman in a sedan, struck him from behind, the Daily Southtown reported. Video footage showed that his taillights and headlights were flashing when the driver hit him.

Street view ghost bike
The crash site at 185th and Harlem, just north of the I-80 interchange. Image: Google Maps

Authorities said in September that it was expected the driver would be charged with violating a night restriction on her license and failure to yield/show due care to a bicyclist in the road. According to bike injury case attorney Michael Keating (a Streetsblog sponsor), it’s likely that the woman’s driver’s license will be revoked.

More than 200 people attended DeMott’s wake in Palos Heights, held during the depths of the Polar Vortex, including many of his coworkers. “He came in every day with a beautiful attitude, always pleasant and nice to everyone,” his supervisor Sonny Bordonado told the Daily Herald. “He had a special way about him that endeared him to all our employees. For instance, if you had a conversation with him about something, he would show up a couple of days later with a book for you on that particular subject.”

DeMott’s obituary states that he was known for his “generous heart, biting wit, artistic talents, intriguing conversations, sweet tooth, keen eye to detail, stalwart work ethic, and selfless nature. His favorite things included film, science fiction, spoiling his family members, cultivating his vinyl collection, and riding his bicycle.” In lieu of flowers, the family requested that donations be made to the Active Transportation Alliance.

DeMott’s younger brother, Andrew DeMott told Streetsblog that, in addition to his work commute, Douglas would bike from the suburbs into Chicago on weekends, visit his favorite places, and bike home. “When he was younger he would frequently bike over 75 and even over 100 miles in a day just for fun.”

Andrew DeMott said that the family wants to see safety improvements made to Harlem Avenue in Tinley Park to help prevent a similar tragedy in the future, which could include repaving or widening the shoulder, better signage, and more visible street paint. “It is our hope that my brother’s death combined with some evidence-based safety suggestions delivered to Tinley, and possibly the state, can lead to some kind of improvement.”

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