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On a gloomy drizzly morning I was proud to be a Chicago cyclist. Friday morning reminded me of just how closely knit the cycling community here is, as a number of cyclists gathered to pay tribute to cyclists who have recently been doored.

Neill Townsend's ghost bike

This rally comes just two weeks after bike commuter Neill Townsend swerved to avoid a car door swinging open in front of him during his morning bike commute; his attempt to avoid the crash with the door (dooring) caused him to be hit by a flat bed semi coming up from behind – a fatal crash.

Neill Townsend remembered

In a stance against dooring and to raise awareness amongst motorists friends, family, colleagues and numerous local cyclists came together to plan a tribute on Friday morning – October 19 – around the same time of the morning that this dooring fatality occurred just two weeks ago. Cyclists aimed to use this gathering of cyclists at the site of the crash “as an opportunity for it to serve as a chance to raise awareness about dooring and sharing the road at a high traffic time.” (as posted in a discussion on the social network known as The Chainlink) Cyclist Clinton Miceli was also remembered; he died in 2008 in a dooring incident just blocks away from Townsend’s crash.

Community gathers at the ghost bike placement for Neill Townsend

Local media – tv, radio and newspapers – covered the well-attended event… and online articles articles went up online as of late Friday morning.

Following the gathering at the crash site, cyclists rode in silence together to the loop – Daley Plaza – in memory of Townsend and Miceli.

Unfortunately I arrived late and missed the speeches given and the stickers and fliers distributed. Stickers said “Save a Life LOOK! Check your mirrors before opening your car door” and are intended to be put on rear view mirrors.The fliers were from IDOT/CDOT: one side said “Motorists Check for Cyclists before you open your door” and on the other side “Bicyclists Be Visible at Night. Use a headlight!” A few other signs have also circulated recently about anti-dooring.

According the the Chicago Department of Transportation’s website –

Chicago currently has more than 170 miles of on-street protected, buffered and shared bike lanes, many miles of off-street paths (including the 18.5-mile Lakefront Trail), more than 13,000 bike racks, and sheltered, high-capacity, bike parking areas at many CTA rail stations.

In his letter to Chicagoans on the city’s bike website, Mayor Rahm Emanuel wrote:

One of my top priorities as mayor is to create a bike network that allows every Chicagoan – from kids on their first ride to senior citizens on their way to the grocery store – to feel safe on our streets.

Despite the city’s ongoing efforts to create a bike-friendly city via a comprehensive bike network, the Illinois Department of Transportation, Division of Traffic Safety, reports that 577 dooring crashes were reported from 2009 through September 7, 2012.

The city continues to look for ways to improve the city’s cycling environment via Chicago’s Bike Program website.

In the meantime, fellow bike commuters, be safe out there.

Many cyclists commute south into downtown Chicago along Wells