Yesterday, the largest group of cyclists I have ever seen in Edmonton gathered in memory of Isaak Kornelsen, the cyclist who was killed on Whyte Ave earlier this week.
The mass grew as it wound through downtown and over the High Level Bridge, and by the time we were on the south side the police were blocking off intersections for us. We rode down Whyte Ave to the ghost bike, where cyclists filled the entire block – all four lanes, and stopped to pay tribute.
There wasn’t a plan or program for this event. Things just happened spontaneously. For example, one rider was giving out yellow ribbons to people who weren’t already wearing yellow. At the ghost bike, after one person tied their ribbon onto the growing memorial, many more followed as a way to pay respect.
For me, one of the most poignant moments came when the crowd went silent. No one asked for a moment of silence, but suddenly, even with so many people present, the avenue was completely quiet.
Powerful, moving, incredibly sad but also inspiring, this ride brought together Edmonton’s cycling community to both grieve and pay tribute to one of our own, and to come together to heal, grow and bring about change so that an accident like this never happens again. It’s a potent reminder that we can all do better, as cyclists and drivers, as city planners, stewards and citizens, our seemingly small actions make a difference, and together we can create a safer reality for all.
Isaak, I’m not sure that I ever met you, but like so many others who only learned your name this week, you have touched my life. Your light still burns in this community, and will be a beacon as we roll into a more bicycle friendly future.
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