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 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.
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.