On June 15, hundreds of cyclists will take to the streets of Waterloo to raise awareness about road safety and honour the memory of people lost in bicycle accidents.
The third annual We Travel Together: Cycle for Angels will start at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) parking lot on Caroline Street at 2:30 p.m.The ride is organized by Heather Caron, an avid cyclist who experienced tremendous loss while riding in the Township of Wellesley.
On May 6, 2012, Heather and her husband Barrie Conrod cycled along Herrgott Road on a sunny spring afternoon.
Along a flat stretch of road in broad daylight, there shouldn’t have been any danger to the experienced riders.
But the unthinkable happened when a SUV struck Conrod from behind, forcing him off his bike, through the air, face down onto the gravel shoulder. Conrod was killed instantly at 52 years of age.
The driver of the vehicle, Dan Wideman, pleaded guilty to careless driving, telling a Kitchener court he fell asleep behind the wheel. He received a $1,000 fine, one year of probation and was ordered to do 10 hours of community service.
Caron told reporters during the court case that she offered Wideman forgiveness, noting that he had taken responsibility for the accident and shown remorse.
Now, Caron finds solace by promoting cycling safety.
“This year there has already been a fatality and a couple of accidents [in the Kitchener-Waterloo region], five I think, in a very short period of time, and I think that there needs to be awareness for the public, for drivers and for cyclists that we all need to be more careful and more aware.”
She believes Sunday’s ride will have a positive impact on the community.
“I think it makes a huge statement to have a lot of cyclists lined up in white shirts” she said, adding that it is an opportunity to “be somber and remember people who were killed or hurt in cycling accidents.”
The ride is also about promoting “mutual respect” between motorists and cyclists, as well as the need for better cycling infrastructure like bike lanes and trails.
Since the accident two years ago, it has been difficult for Caron to enjoy cycling. Fortunately, she’s starting to appreciate the sport again, even riding 108 kilometres for the Cambridge Tour de Grand on June 8.
“It’s one of my passions,” she said. “I couldn’t give it up.”