By David Mendell
Tribune Staff Writer
May 3, 1999

Wearing a heavy heart on his sleeve and a crash helmet on his head, Patrick "Bobcat" Babcock tried to envision what his friend, Tom McBride, would have thought about the mass of people milling about Daley Plaza at noon Sunday.

After all, these roughly 150 bicycle enthusiasts had come together in large part to honor McBride's memory. Their fellow cyclist died last week in an incident attributed to road rage.

"I think his top lip would be quivering like mine is," Babcock said.

The cyclists met for two reasons: To remember McBride, but also to draw attention to the perils bike riders face on city streets from the potentially lethal combination of ill-tempered motorists and ever higher traffic density.

"I don't know what will come of all of this--probably nothing, really--but Tom himself was worth this kind of event," Babcock said.

McBride, 26, was killed last Monday when he got into a dispute with a motorist driving a 1997 Chevy Tahoe sport-utility vehicle in the 5300 block of West Washington Boulevard. Police said the motorist slammed repeatedly into McBride and ran over him when McBride fell from the bike. The motorist fled, but a suspect later turned himself over to police after one of his license plates was found near McBride's body.

Carnell Fitzpatrick, 28, of West Warren Boulevard, has been charged with first-degree murder in connection with the incident.

On Sunday, the cyclists held a brief demonstration at Daley Plaza before pedaling 7 miles to the West Side site of the deadly incident, where they dropped their bikes, sat down in the street and fell silent. The 10-minute vigil was part of the monthly Critical Mass ride where cyclists ride en masse to bring attention to the problems riders face in urban Chicagoland.

McBride was a bicycle courier, but wasn't killed on the job. He was riding to work from his West Side home when the incident occurred. His family and friends said McBride, who grew up in Oak Park, had a passion for bicycling, work, his many diverse friendships and the city streets of Chicago.

Cyclists warned, however, that the city's several hundred couriers face even greater risks on those streets today because of heightened tensions and congested roads. They asked for peace to prevail among cyclists and motorists. Toward that end, they requested motorists refrain from using their horns for a week and try to quell their road anger.

Wearing T-shirts and stickers that read "I'm one less car on the road" and "cars kill more people than handguns," the activists also asked for law-enforcement officers to take motorists' aggressive behavior against cyclists more seriously.

"If there's anything we should take from this, it's kindness," Robert McBride, Tom McBride's older brother, told the group as they sat in bright sunlight at the corner of West Washington and North Lockwood Avenue.

"I like to think my brother wasn't alone when he died," McBride said."You were there with him."

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