Ryan Boudreau

Chicago, Dynamex, died August.2007
killed on the job, in traffic

Cyclist fatally struck by truck on South Side
ABC7 Chicago - August 14, 2007

A bike messenger was killed in an accident with a truck on a near South Side street. Police say 27-year-old Ryan Boudreau was hit by a truck and killed along Clark and 18th streets on Monday. The driver of the truck did stop after striking Boudreau. Police shut down part of Clark Street for several hours while they investigated the deadly accident. So far, no citations have been issued against the truck driver.

Cyclist struck, killed by truck in South Loop
Chicago Tribune staff report - August 14, 2007

CHICAGO - A Chicago man riding his bicycle in the South Loop was struck and killed by a truck Monday afternoon, police said.

Ryan Boudreau, 27, of the 4000 block of North Oakley Avenue, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.
Boudreau was riding his bicycle south in the 1800 block of Clark Street when he was hit by a truck traveling northbound at about 3:15 p.m., Chicago Police Sgt. Eugene Mullins said.

Hey guys...So a friend of mine who's a messenger in Chicago forwarded this to me and told me to spread the word. I'm sorry to anyone who knew this guy and is hearing about it first over email. Ryan Boudreau was hit by a car yesterday and passed away. he had a wife and kid. members of the Chicago Couriers Union are planning a memorial. the following was written by a CCU member and dispatcher, Marshall Arnold: "Ryan is the guy on the right with the 'Stop making my job harder' sign. Aaron, the other guy, is his best friend."

- Liza

Bike messenger killed in S. Loop
August 14, 2007 - FROM STNG WIRE REPORTS

A 27-year-old bike messenger was reportedly killed instantly when he was hit by a truck in the South Loop neighborhood on Monday afternoon. The bike messenger, who was identified by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office as Ryan Boudreau, of the 4000 block of North Oakley Avenue, was working when a truck struck him and killed him instantly, according to a Central District police captain. One of the bike’s wheels was badly bent in the collision, the captain said. Boudreau was riding the bicycle west on 18th Street in the eastbound lanes and made a left turn to go south on Clark Street when he went into the northbound curb lane and collided with a northbound truck, according to Police News Affairs Officer David Banks. The truck had a green light, Banks said.

The accident occurred about 3:15 p.m. Monday at Clark and 18th streets, according to police News Affairs. Paramedics were called to the scene but the bicyclist was not taken to a hospital, according to Fire Media Affairs Cmdr. Will Knight. No citations were issued, according to police News Affairs Sgt. Eugene Mullins. Pronouncement information was not available early Tuesday.

Ryan was a great guy I had the distinct pleasure of working with during my time on the bike in Chicago. I first met him after tracking him down for wearing a Velocity Chrome bag, I had to know who was sporting my company's logo. After talking with him then, crossing paths on the road, and drinking many after work beers at Cal's with him, I quickly deciphered that his true passion in life was his kids. He had a beautiful portrait of his daughter tattooed on his bicep. He was an all-around good guy, with that gruff exterior until you talked to him and found out what a great guy he is.

Fuck. Chicago has lost one of the good guys, and the brothers and sisters of SF all send condolences. Stay safe out there kids, this job isn't worth dying for.

- Dewey

Rest in Peace Ryan Boudreau Flickr by JoeM500

Messengers pay tribute with 'ghost bike' Death of one of their own shows group's tight bond
Chicago Sun-Times , August 19, 2007
By Mark Brown

Ryan Boudreau was a bike messenger, and a good one by all accounts, a young man of 27 who was respected by his peers for being quick on a bike and loved for being even quicker with a smile. Bike messengers, though, don't get much respect in our society, a problem the messengers have solved by creating a little society unto themselves.

On Friday evening, about 100 members of their distinctive tribe rode their bikes to the corner of 18th and Clark to mark the spot where Boudreau was killed Monday in a collision with a truck. They chained a "ghost bike" -- stripped down and painted white -- to a light pole to create a makeshift memorial, then lit candles and shed tears, which were wiped away with tattooed arms.
Aloud, they shared memories of their friend. Silently, they shared the knowledge of the danger of their job -- racing through city traffic to make both a delivery and a living.

Earlier, I spoke with many of them about their work as they gathered at Cal's Liquors, a dive bar at Wells and Van Buren that is a favorite hangout, before they made the ride to the accident scene. Boudreau was a regular here, stopping by during the day to buy a Gatorade to drink with his lunch or making the after-work scene to get a beer and swap stories with other messengers.
"How many runs did you make today?" is a common greeting, owing to the fact that most bike messengers are paid by commission -- usually half the delivery charge. That means they are rewarded for going fast and taking chances, which is part of what makes them the bane of pedestrians in the Loop. Most American drivers, of course, treat all bicyclists with contempt, the messengers perhaps bearing the brunt of it.

An average messenger will make 25 runs in a day and make maybe $300 a week. Ride fast and a little crazy, and they might do 40 runs and make up to $600.

"Ryan was a fast biker. The faster he was, the more runs he made, the more money he made. There's a reason we ride the way we do," said Lumes Glenn, 53, a messenger for more than 12 years.

Police said Boudreau was riding in the oncoming lane when he was struck. The truck driver was not ticketed. A dispatcher for Boudreau's employer, Dynamex, said Boudreau was running a personal errand at the time he was killed, but messengers said that shouldn't distract from the fact he was hustling so he could get back to work.

So why do they do it?

"They all love it. Everyone wants to try it. You can ride a bike and make money," said Gina Depcik, 55, known around town as the "bike messengers' mother."

"But they don't know the companies treat them like meat," said Depcik, who formed her bond with messengers while working out of a pizza truck.

By the time they fully appreciate the poor work conditions -- no benefits and often no workers compensation coverage in an accident -- many are already hooked.

"It becomes this bond," Depcik said. The bond is partly us vs. them -- them being the messenger companies, motorists, pedestrians and maybe even society as a whole. They know everyone looks down on them, and they revel in it.
"We're misfits," said Theo Forand, 26, who has been doing this for six years while in slow pursuit of a college degree. "We're a collection of people who didn't fit in, and we each fit in together."

"One time a guy yelled, 'Get a real job.' I don't think it gets much more real than this," said Joe Norton, 35, who looks like he could have played tight end for the Bears but says he's actually a musician.

'It takes a certain kind of person'

They also enjoy the physical activity, being outside and the relative freedom that comes with it.

"It takes a certain kind of person to be a bike messenger," Lumes said. "You know, can't everybody do this."

Boudreau's death has become a rallying point for the Chicago Couriers Union, which is trying to raise money for his two young children -- ages 3 and 5. Boudreau, a messenger for about two years, was a proud member of the tribe and always ready to lend a helping hand, said his friends. But he also was apparently aware of the limitations.

Julie Schabel, 19, said Boudreau showed her the ropes, both on the job and off, persuading her to stay in college at the School of the Art Institute. "You don't want to be a bike messenger when you're 27 like me," he told her. He won't get a chance to be a bike messenger at 28.