Two months after Gerardo Marciales was fatally hit by a driver while riding his bicycle on DuSable Lake Shore Drive, family members and fellow cyclists have come together to place a memorial near the scene of the accident and to request changes at the intersection near Grant Park and on roads throughout the city.
His fiancee, Jaime Bolognese, told reporters that she met Marciales during the pandemic and “knew immediately that he was someone special”.
“Gerardo was full of life,” she said, sometimes holding back tears. “He was hilarious. He loved deeply. He would do anything for anyone. … And to me, he was so caring, and he just made me laugh every day.
The couple lived in Lincoln Park and planned to wed on September 3.
But shortly after the Feb. 28 accident, Bolognese received a call from a Chicago police officer with the shocking news: Marciales had been killed while biking on the lakeside freeway near Balbo Drive. He was 41 years old.
On Thursday, she and the Marciales family decorated a spray-painted “ghost bike” in her honor. He was then chained to a lamp post in the middle of the roadway, a few steps from where he was hit.
Bolognese said the driver ran a red light and headed straight into a turning lane at an intersection she said pedestrians and cyclists didn’t have enough time to cross. The driver, a 26-year-old man, was cited for disobeying lane markings, police said.
Bolognese said she hopes “people are listening” and that city officials will consider implementing “safety changes” at the “dangerous intersection” and others throughout Chicago.
“We don’t want another family to go through what we went through,” she said.
Marciales had moved to Chicago from Venezuela in 2019, but continued to send money to his family in his home country, according to a GoFundMe page that raised nearly $9,000 to continue that support. He worked as a technical consulting engineer for Cisco Systems, but also enjoyed learning, barbecuing and hanging out with friends, his fiancée said.
At least one other cyclist and five pedestrians have been struck and killed in Chicago this year, according to Streets Blog Chicago, which tracks those deaths.
Earlier this month, Paresh Chhatrala, 42, died days after being hit by a driver while cycling through the West Loop. The crash sparked new calls for improved safety along Madison Street, with defenders and cyclists making similar pleas on Thursday.
Marciales’ sister joined the choir.
“I just called the Chicago Department of Transportation [and said], do something,” said Dubraska Diaz, who traveled to Chicago for the vigil with her sister. “This can’t keep happening.”