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Bike Crashes

Tragically, the Chicago Ride of Silence included 3 locations where 2 people were injured or killed on bikes

But while the event raised awareness of the urgent need to make streets safer for all users, it also was an example of what's beautiful about riding bikes.

Ride of Silence participants visit the “ghost bike” memorial for Carla Aiello, 37, who was struck and killed on her bike in November 2019 at Kilbourn and Milwaukee avenues in the Old Irving Park neighborhood. On the other side of street there’s another ghost bike for Nick Parlingayan, 22, who was fatally struck while biking near the same intersection in May 2022. Photo: John Greenfield

Yesterday evening there was lovely weather and scenery for a sad and solemn, but ultimately life-affirming bicycle event, the annual Chicago Ride of Silence. It's part of a global movement to call attention to importance of creating safer streets, and honor people who have been critically injured or fatally struck while riding bikes.

This year's route, which traveled to the city's Northwest Side, was particularly thought provoking. Riders visited three different locations where, at the same intersection, or only an eighth of a mile apart, two cyclists were injured or killed in separate crashes.

Gathering at Queen's Landing after work. Photo: Ace Mann, @ChiCritMass

Downtown workers and residents met up at Queen's Landing, on the Lakefront Trail across DuSable Lake Shore Drive from Buckingham Fountain, then rode north on the shoreline to Dickens Greenway Plaza, the official start of the ride.There a crowd of perhaps 200 participants gathered.

Riders assemble at the plaza before the main ride. Photo: John Greenfield

At the plaza, the names of the five people who were killed while riding bikes on Chicago streets in roughly the last year were displayed. See the links below for Streetsblog articles about these cases.

The names of the many people fatally struck while walking in our city during that time were also listed.

Names of traffic violence victims from the past year. Click here for a larger image on Twitter. Photo: Eric Allix Rogers

Longtime Chicago ROS organizer Elizabeth Adamczyk, who was assisted in promoting the local 2024 event by the Active Transportation Alliance, gave some remarks before the group departed on the main ride. She said they would visit five crash sites and six white-painted "ghost bike" memorials for both recent victims, and a few who were struck years ago.

The map for yesterday's ride. Click here for a larger version.

"And we honor Chicago cycling legend George Christensen who rode with us for the first time in 2023 and we trust he is with us in spirit now," Adamczyk said. Christensen, a close friend of Adamczyk, was fatally struck on a bike trip in South Carolina on April 22. There will also be a potluck picnic as a tribute to Christensen on Saturday, June 1 at 2 p.m. in Chicago's West Town community area – RSVP here for the address. Whether or not you can attend that event, you can sign an e-card in memory of Christensen here.

"We ride in silence – a universal language of respect for those not with us, in solidarity with all rides happening around the world – in over 14 countries and in 11 communities throughout Illinois," Adamczyk said. She concluded by reciting the Ride of Silence poem by Mike Murgas, as is done at every annual ride. It includes the couplet, "Tonight's ride is to make others aware /
The road is there for all to share".

With that, the hundreds of riders silently rolled out of the plaza onto Dickens Avenue. Here's a gallery of images from the ride.

The ride proceeds west on the Dickens Avenue Neighborhood Greenway in Lincoln Park, into the setting sun. Photo: John Greenfield
The group arrives at Webster Street and Clybourn Avenue in Lincoln Park. Photo: John Greenfield
Adamczyk leaves a flower and lights an electric candle at the ghost bike for Tyler Fabeck, 22, at Logan Boulevard and Western Avenue in Logan Square. Fabeck was fatally struck while biking there in 2008. Adamczyk did the same thing at the memorial for Kevin Clark, 32, on the other side of Western. Clark was also struck and killed while biking at this intersection, in May 2021. Photo: John Greenfield
Active Transportation Director of Communications Ted Villaire pulls a placard on the ride on Logan Boulevard in Logan Square. Photo: John Greenfield
The ride passes by the Illinois Centennial Monument on Logan Boulevard in Logan Square. Photo: John Greenfield
The ghost bike for Ron Mendoza at Wrightwood Avenue and Pulaski Road. He was fatally struck in June 2023. Photo: John Greenfield
Rolling through a viaduct on Wrightwood Avenue in the Hermosa neighborhood. Photo: John Greenfield
Passing by a "Chicago Strong" mural at Diversey and Long avenues in the Belmont Cragin community. Photo: John Greenfield
Riding on Long Avenue in Belmont Cragin. Many bystanders, especially kids, waved hello at the parade of bike riders. Photo: John Greenfield
Riding by St. Ladislaus Catholic Church at Roscoe and Long avenues in the Portage Park neighborhood. Photo: John Greenfield
A neighbor walks away after leaving a flower on the ghost bike for Joshua Anleu Buendia at Waveland and Long Avenues in Portage Park, where he was fatally struck last October. Only four months later, and only one-eighth mile north of this location at Graceland Street and Long, in February a driver critically injured Ernesto Vargas, 18, on his bike. Thankfully, he came home from the hospital a few days after the collision. Adamczyk left a flower and lit a candle on a curb at that intersection to wish Vargas a full recovery. Photo: John Greenfield
Ghost bikes for Carla Aiello, who was fatally struck in November 2019 and Nick Parlingan, who was struck and killed in May 2022. Both crashes took place near Kilbourn and Milwaukee avenues in the Old Irving Park community. Photo: John Greenfield

The Chicago Ride of Silence ended at a sad location, Kilbourn and Milwaukee avenues in the Old Irving Park neighborhood. Carla Aiello and Nick Parlington were both struck and killed on bikes nearby, with only about two and a half years passing between the fatal crashes.

But Adamczyk gave some final remarks to end the ride on an optimistic note. "I hope this ride was enjoyable and memorable for you, and for all of those who we advocate for, for safer streets for all. That our loved ones did not die in vain, and that we don't have to keep visiting more ghost bikes and honoring more fallen cyclists year after year."

She invited participants to bicycle to the nearby Sleeping Village music venue and beer garden in Avondale for a post-ride social gathering. "Time to share stories about our loved ones. Time to share stories about the importance of this ride. Time to share stories about why we do this, and why we enjoy riding bikes."

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