I was somewhere toward the front end of the group, by virtue of having been inside at the Christ Church Cathedral hall till nearly ride time: they'd opened the hall and brought out coffee and muffins for the riders, and my friend Steve was there volunteering, so I popped in for a cup of coffee and to give him a hug.
|Steve manning the coffee table.
|"Jordan L" (@supposedly_fun) posted this on Twitter: the ride as seen from an office block on Queen.
That was when I started getting choked up. He released the balloons he was holding, and we all watched them drift up and away. Then Brent thanked everyone for being there, talked about Danielle's love of the city, and said that it was the support and warmth of people in Ottawa that had been helping them get through.
Sam McGavin, who had organized the ride, was a tiny woman, who was lifted up onto Brent's shoulders so she could speak to the crowd as well. She said that she heard about Danielle's accident when her partner called her, frantic to know if she was all right, and that it was probably the same for a lot of us. "For a day, we didn't know who she was," she said, "only that one of us had died, and it could have been a friend, or a sister, or a girlfriend, or a mother, or a daughter." She called on everyone to share the road, and on the city planners to take cycling into account when they design roads, build public spaces, and plan streets, and told everyone to be cautious - "not afraid," she said, "but cautious and aware."
Looking around, I was amazed at the size of the crowd. It stretched back at least a block, probably more.
After Sam stepped down, the crowd slowly dispersed, with a number of people waiting to place flowers that they'd brought on the already buried ghost bike, and the media interviewing a few people, as well as the Naçu family. I stayed for a moment, not wanting to simply ride away, and then, of course, I did: down blocked-off Queen Street and onto Bank, where all the cars and bikes were rolling along as usual, but, I imagined, a little more somberly.
|(Photo: Pat McGrath, The Ottawa Citizen: The story, with photos and videos, is on the Citizen website.)