To remember a fallen cyclist

I didn’t know Jenna Morrison. I’ve never biked past the corner where she was killed, and save for Google Maps, I would have never known where Sterling was. But something about her tragic, needless, entirely preventable death strikes a chord with every person who has ever set out on two wheels in this city.

I bike in Toronto. Shawnte bikes, and was knocked down by a careless driver this summer (she wasn’t badly hurt, thankfully). My sister bikes, albeit in another city. Nearly all of my closest friends bike, and I have met hundreds more wonderful people who bike,  through the internet and through cycling advocacy groups. Every one of us has stories of near-misses, doorings, needlessly aggressive drivers, and badly lacking infrastructure. Jenna’s death affects us all, not because it could have been us, but because it could have been our loved ones who were killed.

We are surrounded by a society that pays lip service to people who choose to travel by bike, but when it comes to action, little is done. We don’t know why, but Jenna was knocked down by that truck at the corner of Dundas & Sterling, fell beneath the rear wheels, and died. Had there been proper indications at the corner, maybe the driver would have known to look for her. Had the truck been required by law to have side guards, she would have fallen and quite likely been injured, but she would be alive. In the week following her death, a group (not the City) painted the bicycle markings on the road that might have saved her life. It’s not hard to do, but our governments refuse to take action.

It’s easy to think that society doesn’t care when a cyclist is needlessly killed in a collision that could (and should) have been prevented. This November morning, thousands of cyclists gathered for a memorial ride for Jenna and to see the memorial “ghost bike” installed at the corner where she died. These thousands of cyclists came out to show that they care, though our elected leaders do not. Although I wasn’t able to ride this morning, I needed to say that I care too.

My sincerest condolences to Jenna’s family and to everyone who knew and loved her.

About Greg Burrell

Greg is an accountant, cyclist and political observer living in Toronto, Canada with too many cats.
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  • Kristin Foster

    Well said, Greg. Wish I could have been there myself.

  • It would have anyway, but as it was around the corner from where I live, it certainly struck a chord with me. My partner was out and I was checking the photos to see if I recognized the bike.