During ghost bike vigil, 100s of mourners occupied intersection where Adé Hogue was killed

Shrine at the crash site. Photo: Imelda March
Shrine at the crash site. Photo: Imelda March

Tuesday evening, as the sky over Lake Michigan shone bright pink, hundreds of mourners gathered at the Jane Addams Memorial Park, at the intersection of Grand Avenue, DuSable Lake Shore Drive, and the Lakefront Trail, to honor the life of Adé Hogue, a graphic designer and bike racer who died last Friday after being struck by a driver at the junction.

The Navy Pier Flyover arched overhead. At $64.6 million, it’s Chicago’s most expensive piece of bike and pedestrian infrastructure, and it was built so that through traffic on the shoreline path can bypass dangerous intersections with Grand and Illinois Street. However, it doesn’t do much to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists entering or exiting the trail via these roads, where where sight lines are obscured by Upper DLSD and high walls at the base of Lake Point Tower.

Attendees stand under the Navy Pier Flyover. Photo: Sharon Hoyer
Attendees stand under the Navy Pier Flyover. Photo: Sharon Hoyer

Hogue, 32, had been a member of the Half Acre Cycling team and his teammates attended the vigil in their jerseys, emblazoned with the words “Race with Heart” across the back. One woman wore a shirt stating “Please don’t run me over” in all caps front and back. The jazz theme from the anime series “Cowboy Bebop” played on a small Bluetooth speaker sitting near a white-painted ghost bike draped with flowered garland, another memorial to a life cut short by traffic violence, and a physical reminder of the need for safer streets for cyclists.

According to police and witnesses, on Wednesday, October 27, at about 8 PM, Hogue was riding west on Grand when a woman driving a van northbound on Lower DLSD struck him at the on-ramp to the highway. He was assisted by bystanders, including doctors who were in the vicinity, and rushed to Northwestern Hospital with traumatic head injuries. Hogue remained in a coma until he was pronounced dead on Friday evening.

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Adé Hogue

Christina Whitehouse, founder of Bike Lane Uprising, a website that documents bikeway obstructions, which organized the vigil, took up a bullhorn barely powerful enough to reach the ears of a crowd that extended a hundred yards into Addams Park. Whitehouse asked for a show of hands for how many people – many whom arrived on bicycle – had biked through the Grand/DLSD/LFT intersection. Nearly every hand went up. She then asked how many had experienced a close call there while riding and about half remained in the air. When Whitehouse demanded better bike infrastructure, a chorus of bike bells rang out.

Adam Overberg, president of Half Acre Cycling, remembered his friend’s warmth and kindness, saying through tears, “I don’t want to be here. You don’t want to be here. Our community is tired of this. And we’re tired of taking the f—ing blame.”

Attendees on the hill in Addams Park. Photo: Sharon Hoyer
Attendees on the hill in Addams Park. Photo: Sharon Hoyer

While early, brief mainstream news reports simply repeated the police statement that Hogue entered the intersection while his signal was red, witnesses told Streetsblog there was more to the story, reporting that the van driver was speeding towards Grand with a yellow. “Yes, [Hogue’s] light was red,” stated one nearby motorist who said she saw the crash take place. “However, Adé did not ride into oncoming traffic. The road was clear and he proceeded to cross when suddenly a van appeared at full speed and [the driver] hit him when he was mostly through the intersection… I don’t think it’s fair to this man that people [are questioning] his judgment.”

A friend of Hogue read a poem by Maya Angelou and then the throng moved into the street, occupying the intersection in a moment of silence. One man laid his bicycle across the northbound lane of Lower DLSD. After about a minute a few drivers began honking their horns, but the crowd remained still and silent.

Attendees occupy the intersection. Photo: Steven Vance
Attendees occupy the intersection. Photo: Steven Vance

Police on bicycles were present, but fortunately driver impatience did not extend beyond a few honks. [After publication of this piece, a reader told us they saw northbound motorists driving onto the sidewalk to get around the crowd to head west on Grand, and a police officer actually waved someone through to make that move.]

After a few minutes the vigil processed back to the sidewalk to witness the chaining of the ghost bike memorial to the stop light on the pedestrian island at the northeast corner of the junction.

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The ghost bike installed on the pedestrian island. Photo via the @ChiCritMass Twitter account.

Overberg took up the bullhorn to thank attendees, saying, “I can’t believe I have to say this, but get home safe.” A voice in the crowd said, “We all deserve to get home safe.” Overberg repeated, “We all deserve to get home safe.”

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