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Groupon honors staffer killed in bike crash with donations for protected lanes

Robert 'Bobby' Cann  |   Facebook photo

Robert "Bobby" Cann | Facebook photo

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Updated: June 7, 2013 12:14AM

Groupon honored one of its employees who was killed last week by a motorist while riding his bike with what it does best: a daily deal.

The deal for Bobby Cann, 26, didn’t mention comfort food, kayaking or facials, but instead it appealed to the good will of Grouponers to donate $10 to the Active Transportation Alliance to help fund the expansion of protective bike lanes.

The deal was posted early Wednesday and is slated to run through the week. By Wednesday afternoon the deal had 1,300 takers.

Cann, who rode to work year-round, was killed while riding in the River North area by a driver who was later charged with drunken driving. The street Cann was riding on doesn’t have a protected bike lane.

“Bobby was incredibly well-liked, and the news hit people pretty hard,” Groupon spokesman Bill Roberts said. “There was a huge outpouring of people who wanted to do something to honor Bobby’s memory in a way to have a potential to have a real significant and long-term impact on cyclists throughout Chicago.”

Plans are also in motion to name the bike room at Groupon’s headquarters at 600 W. Chicago after Cann, he said.

Cann, who grew up in New Hampshire and lived in Lake View, taught himself code and carved out a position at Groupon creating editorial shortcuts for writers of quirky daily deal blurbs. Cann began at Groupon as a writer and was dating fellow Groupon writer, Catherine Bullard, who wrote the following piece that accompanied the memorial:

“Bobby Cann’s bicycle was an extension of himself, like a wing sharply slanting from a swallow. As if in rhythm with wind currents, updrafts, and the miniscule permutations of an invisible flock, Bobby soared, rejoicing, through the streets. He swooped down empty neighborhood roads in the quiet of the night, he elegantly circumvented potholes with an arabesque of his wheel, he whizzed down bike lanes in straight and true lines. Bobby loved riding in snow, in heat, alone and in undulating masses. Bobby talked about the Ride of Silence and Critical Mass bicycle rides like some people talk about church: a way to commune with others, to feel joy and belonging as a participant in Chicago’s culture.

“It’s true of life in general, but it’s certainly true of urban cycling: there is no way to control all the elements of your own safety. Bobby prevented harm to himself in every way he could. He always wore a helmet and outfitted his bike with lights. He used hand signals not only to indicate when he turned, but also to point out potholes to fellow cyclists behind him. He carried a patch kit and spare tubes wherever he rode.

“Death can come to us at any time. A meteor can come dashing in from a whirling asteroid belt. The very universe could blink off, just as it once blinked on. In a moment, in a breath, it is over. But living under the stars — a miracle and a wonder that Bobby cherished close in his heart — is not inherently dangerous. So it should be with cycling.”

The Active Transportation Alliance is also planning a yet-to-be-named memorial to honor Cann, according to Rebecca Resman, the group’s director of membership and development. “There’s a study by the American Journal of Public Health that states there’s an 89 percent lower chance of injury when riding in protected bike lanes compared to roads with no bike lanes,” she said.

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