A transplant from New Hampshire, Robert “Bobby” Cann was an ambassador for Chicago biking, taking the time to answer new riders' questions — even taking them on test rides to familiarize them with city streets.
Cann, who worked at Groupon Inc. on the Near North Side, was an avid bicyclist who rode in all sorts of weather but always kept in mind the need to share the road with other vehicles, friends said. Wednesday night, Cann, 26, was riding in the 1300 block of North Clybourn Avenue when a southbound Mercedes sedan struck and killed him, authorities said.
Cann, of the 3200 block of North Southport Avenue, was pronounced dead at 7:05 p.m. at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.
Cann had worked in the editorial department of Groupon, headquartered at 600 W. Chicago Ave., since 2010, a company spokesman said.
"We are incredibly saddened by Bobby's death," the company said in a statement, which called Cann "a popular and talented member of our team."
Friends said they saw Cann’s willingness to help in work and in his social life.
Margaret Kizior, who met him while they were both working at the REI, an outdoor equipment store at 1466 N. Halsted St. several years ago, said Cann would go out of his way to help anyone interested in biking in the city.
“Anytime anyone came in to REI and wanted to talk about biking in Chicago … he was really excited to get them into the sport and be safe in Chicago,” Kizior said.
“He was just my go-to guy for everything biking,” said Philip Bird, 29, who also met Cann at REI and became close friends with him.
Cann always made anyone he met feel at ease, said Kizior, 38.
“If you walked into a party and you didn’t know anyone, he’d be the first person to walk up to you, and you’d be best friends by the end of the night,” Kizior said.
Bird and Cann bonded over both being East Coast transplants, joking over Midwesterners’ accents even as Bird began to taken inspiration from Cann’s avid cycling.
“Every winter, I think about not riding, and then think, ‘What would Bobby do?’” Bird said.
Though not the type of bicyclist to weave in and out of traffic or blow off stop lights and stop signs, Cann participated regularly in the monthly Critical Mass bike ride, in which bicyclists gather at Daley Plaza and ride through the city en masse, friends said. Kizior, who last saw Cann at the Chicago Ride of Silence, a memorial for people killed while bike riding, noted that Cann always wore his helmet.
Cann’s friends were gathering this afternoon at the scene where he was hit. And tomorrow, Kizior, Bird and other friends will make the monthly Critical Mass ride in remembrance of Cann.
“We want everyone to feel safe riding in Chicago,” Kizior said.
Julie Dziak, a nurse who drove by the scene just after the crash, jumped from her car with a towel and sweatshirt and tried to start emergency care.
She tried to stop the bleeding from a leg wound, and then began CPR, Dziak said Thursday night in an email.
Although she works in a neonatal intensive care unit, she was able to use her Basic Life Support training to continue chest compressions while other passersby kept his airway clear -- but she wished she could have done more.
Paramedics quickly arrived at the scene and took over.
"I just wanted to share and reach out to Bobby's family and friends somehow and let them know he was not alone," Dziak said.