Last year's Memorial Ride for Barrie Conrod was one of the biggest grassroots cycling events in Waterloo Region's recent history.
Conrod, you may recall, was killed last year by an SUV driver who nodded off for a second while taking his family home on a beautiful clear Sunday morning, and fatally struck Conrod, who was out for a Sunday ride with his wife, Heather Caron. (My post on the resulting court case, here.)
Caron, has, with the help of cycling friends and members of the larger cycling community, put together a three-kilometre memorial ride for Conrod, and all those cyclists who have died on a ride. Titled, Together We Travel: Ride for Angels, the event will be held Saturday, July 20 in uptown Waterloo. (Facebook page is here.) Registration is 4:15 p.m. at the CIGI parking lot in Waterloo at Caroline and Erb; the ride begins at 5:30 p.m. There will be a police escort.
Riders are asked to wear a white shirt, wear a helmet and sign an insurance waiver. There will be a collection jar to help with the insurance costs.
The intention is for riders to take the lane, and demonstrate the diversity and commitment of the cycling community in this region.
Doing so might be a tough job, in the current climate. Statistics from the minimalist National Householder Survey (which only asked cyclists how long it took to ride to work), suggest that cycling in Waterloo Region is running below the national average. According to the 2011 survey, 1.1 per cent of commuters cycled to work in Kitchener/Waterloo/Cambridge, compared to 1.3 per cent nationally. Since the regional numbers are an apparent drop from the 1.6 per cent recorded in 2006, this may be simply a variation due to small sample size, or it could be that commuters are giving up on bikes.
But I guess the small sample size is the point. According to the survey, some 88 per cent of regional residents drive to work. Five per cent take the buse; four per cent walk. Those of us who use transit, sidewalks, crosswalks, pedestrian islands, crossing signals or bike lanes: we're just a fraction of the population that uses the roadways, and a vocal segment of that motoring group seems to see sidewalks, crosswalks, and bike lanes as impedimentia.
Unless we want to become completely marginalized, we need to show ourselves. A white shirt and a bike ride would be one way to do that.
Caron writes in a letter to the public that:
"I hope you will join me in this short ride around downtown Waterloo. Our ride will serve as a reminder to motorists and cyclists to respect each other and remember those who have been affected. . . . The community has been so supportive to me. I can't begin to thank everyone. I hope we can continue to remember and honour until the time comes that we don’t need to promote safety on the roads. Safety for all."