About two hours ago I finished participating in the Ride And Remember, a ride in memory of Gastown Cycling’s Brad Dean, tragically killed last year on River Road in Richmond while on a ride with several others, some of whom were also grievously injured. The impact of this accident will be felt the most by Brad’s (at the time) unborn daughter, Amaurie.

But the impact of cycling related accidents extends across the cycling community, and this ride is also for the purpose of remembering and honoring ALL of those impacted by cycling tragedies.

Today we met Amaurie, all 400 or so of us (post continues below).

I am told Brad did not even know his wife was pregnant before he was killed. Cruel, cruel fate. Or was it fate? Does the blame instead rest on the impatience of drivers when confronted by cyclists ahead of them, even in situations where the bikes will almost immediately catch up to the cars again?

Many today commented that this accident didn’t need to happen. There were some prescriptions offered, but the best one was given by local cyclist Jeff Kemp. He referred us to a campaign by the Orthopaedic Trauma Association on Bike safety.What resonated with me was the tag of that campaign: Cyclists are not always right, but we are always fragile.

I love it. In fact, I think it’s brilliant. But if we as cyclists are going to ask for considerate treatment from cars, even when we are in the wrong, we have to seriously improve our respect for pedestrians. I feel I might be one of the worst offenders personally, but I now realize that pedestrians probably feel as threatened by a close pass by a bicycle as I do when close-passed by a car.

It takes energy to stop and start on a bike, more so than it does to stop a car or to stop walking. It is so tempting to just whip around a person crossing a road in or out of a crosswalk. But we cyclists are going to start asking for accommodation here, and if we expect to get it from cars, we had best set an irreproachable example when it comes to pedestrians. Even when they are in the wrong, as it seems they often are.

After all, pedestrians face the same temptations of energy conservation we do. “Walk all the way to the corner to cross? What’s the harm if I just run across here?” is the same thing as “Come to a complete stop from 30kph, then work back up to that speed, just until the next light? What’s the harm if I just roll this stop?” Of course, we cyclists know the pedestrians cut us off all the time, popping out from between parked cars, head buried in their smartphones, oblivious to our efforts to keep both parties from an unfortunate encounter.

And when we roll the stop sign, it’s all fine until we miss seeing the stroller in the crosswalk, and accidentally give someone a fright. But the result is we get local radio personalities like Stephen Quinn writing columns accusing cyclists of reaching “Peak Entitlement“.

The article raised some ire among bike commuters that rightly pointed out that peak entitlement is probably driving a car around our congested city in the age of global warming (not to mention the unasked, unanswered question “ever jaywalked Steven?”), but it’s hard to argue with his emotional perspective when you are also arguing for accommodation, even when in the wrong.

Cyclists should demand safe passing laws and prosecution of aggressive drivers, but cyclist should also slow up near crosswalks and give pedestrians a much wider berth than we often do, particularly on narrow mixed use paths.

For once, I actually know my new years resolution far in advance.

Apparently, the Ride to Remember will be an ongoing event, hopefully in major cities across Canada next year. Let’s hope so. The mood today was understated, emotional, friendly, and respectful of the cars that were briefly obstructed as 400 or so rode through the park. I felt it struck the right tone, and had a brilliant message. In short, a hopeful response to a horrible tragedy.


P.S.: Follow the Ride and Remember site to see dates and times for next year’s ride. We will also be announcing it on our Facebook and Insta pages. We hope we see you there.