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Cemetery bike ban

Why are bicycles banned in most Chicago cemeteries?

Photograph: Alyssa Jongsma
What's with that

Q I love Chicago’s cemeteries: You can ride a loud motorcycle in them, but not a quiet bicycle. Why?—Todd Keller, Rogers Park

A When it comes to paying respects to the dead, zoom into a cemetery like a bat out of hell on a muffler-free Harley—or any other motor vehicle—but don’t you dare show up to a memorial on a Schwinn. Cemetery brass we spoke to couldn’t fully explain the logic behind the bike ban, which seems to stem from the idea of bicycles as merely tools of leisure. (Motorcycle escorts, on the other hand, frequently lead funeral processions.) “I don’t know the reason for it. I just know it says bicycles are not supposed to be driven through the cemetery,” explained Kathy Fouch, the family service coordinator at Rosehill Cemetery. While admitting that “a bike isn’t nearly as intrusive as a motorcycle,” Fouch complained of seeing “people come through on their bikes bare-backed,” something she finds discourteous. An employee of Graceland Cemetery—the eternal resting place of such luminaries as Marshall Field and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe—agreed the bike ban is a matter of respecting grieving families. Only one of the five boneyards we contacted is boho enough to allow bikes: the suitably named Bohemian National Cemetery. “Just be careful,” warned general manager Elizabeth Raleigh. “We’ve got potholes.”

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