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Riding in unity to honor our walking and biking fatalities
On Wednesday, May 17, people gathered for an annual bicycle ride to honor those who were injured or killed while biking or walking in the past year.
About 100 people participated in the Ride of Silence in Chicago, and throughout Illinois, there were about 40 different Ride of Silence events.
The event calls attention to the right of people to bike and walk on public roadways and the urgent need for infrastructure that will make these transportation options safer and more welcoming for people of all ages and abilities.
“We want the community to remember and honor the vulnerable road users who tragically died while biking or walking,” said Chicago Ride of Silence organizer Elizabeth Adamczyk. “Together, we mourn, we remember, we ride in unity and reverent silence.”
This year, the 9-mile route started near Buckingham Fountain and traveled through the Loop, South Loop, Chinatown, Pilsen, West Loop, and River West, visiting the following fatal crash sites of the past year or so:
- Gerardo Marciales, 41, was biking when he was killed by a driver at Balbo Drive and DuSable Lake Shore Drive on February 28, 2022.
- Marsha Frankel, 72, was walking when she was killed by a driver on February 20, 2023, at Wabash Ave. and Roosevelt Rd.
- Guo Ning Li, 78, was killed by a driver while walking on March 19, 2023, at Wentworth Ave. and 24th St.
- Fengan Yan, 55, was fatally struck by a driver while Yan was biking at 26th St. and Stewart Ave.
- James Richard Thompson, 26, was killed by a driver on March 25, 2023, while Thompson was walking at Washington Ave. and Green St.
- Paresh Chhatrala, 42, was biking when he was struck and killed by a driver near Madison and Peoria streets on April 16, 2022.
- Samuel Bell, 44, was killed by a driver while biking on the 700 block of N. Milwaukee Ave. on September 8, 2022.
In addition to those people named above, the ride honors and remembers so many others who tragically lost their lives or were injured while biking or walking on Chicago streets.
“Deaths of people biking and walking have increased in the past couple of years in Chicago,” said Adamczyk. “This is unacceptable. We are calling attention to this needless loss of life and demanding safer streets. We must design roadways that are safer for all road users. We must eliminate traffic fatalities and urge the city to do much more to keep people safe while they’re biking and walking.”
An average of five to six bicyclists were killed every year 2012-2019 in Chicago. But nine people were killed while biking in Chicago in 2020, 10 in 2021, and in 2022, eight people biking were struck and killed by motorists.
During 2022, 31 pedestrians were killed by motorists, and so far in 2023 the city has seen drivers kill 15 people while they were walking and one person while they were biking.
“The lack of safe infrastructure for all road users has resulted in the tragic loss of life. During the summer of 2022, motorists struck and killed at least seven Chicagoland children on foot, scooters, and bikes,” said Amy Rynell, Executive Director of the Active Transportation Alliance. “There is an urgent need for safety improvements on many of our streets. No more people should have to die while biking or walking on any of our roadways in order to achieve needed safety improvements.”
This year Illinois hosted nearly 20 Ride of Silence events in communities throughout the state. The Ride of Silence is held in many locations in the US, Canada, Australia, Europe, South and Central America and the rest of the world. This year there were nearly 200 locations registered throughout the world.
Active Transportation Alliance is one of the organizers of the event in Chicago.
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