Hundreds of Denver Bicyclists Ride, Remember and Party for Fallen Cyclists
Hundreds of people on bikes gathered near the ballpark last night before riding in the rain to a candlelight vigil held where a driver hit and killed Alexis Bounds near the Denver Country Club last Wednesday. The action was part memorial, part protest and also part of an annual celebration when bicyclists put on dresses and ride through the city. Scott Hendrickson, who a driver hit and killed July, 12, regularly attended the dress ride.
“Scott was a friend of ours,” said Luis Angel, who had joined other regular participants in the monthly Denver Cruiser Ride at the Ginn Mill last night. “I couldn’t believe it because he was riding with us only two days earlier.”
The ride comes at a time when the city’s plans to expand its network of bike lanes are facing strong opposition from neighbors, including where Bounds was killed. But local media and the public are growing increasingly concerned about road safety as Denver traffic fatalities have jumped 47 percent this year, with 47 dead so far compared to 32 at this point last year.
For the family of Bounds, who was 37 and the mother of two young children, last night’s events became a part of their grieving process. Before the ride left, Nancy Bounds, Alexis’ mother-in-law, held back tears when talking about their loss.
“This has been the hardest week of our lives,” she said.
Ahead of the vigil, Piep van Heuven of Bicycle Colorado placed candles in a circle around a ghost bike dedicated to Bounds’ memory. Hundreds of people on bikes arrived soon after, closing down traffic on the streets near where Bounds was killed. Before van Heuven asked for a moment of silence, she spoke to the crowd.
“Tonight we are coming together. To mourn. To support each other. To ask our city to do more. To ask friends and family and neighbors to do more.”
Unlike many candlelight vigils, many did not hold the candles near their hearts. Instead, they raised them in the air in protest, expressing a mix of emotions that pulsed through the gathering.
“I feel sadness for the victim’s families. Anger that a loss like like this is entirely preventable,” said Pete Piccolo, executive director of Bicycle Colorado. “And fear because my wife and kids ride right around here.”
Amy Kenreich, a bike advocate and mother of two young bicyclists, says the recent deaths, including Bounds’, have left her feeling raw and exhausted.
“I feel like I’m cried out,” she said. “I thought seeing her kids online was too much. But seeing her husband is more than I can handle.”
Some commented that the big turnout and a recent shift in the tone of local media coverage around bicycle fatalities signals a turning point in the city’s attitudes toward street safety. One neighbor who attended the vigil and had opposed upgrading the bike lane where Bounds was killed, has changed his mind.
“I’ve lived in the neighborhood 40 years,” said Rich Grant. “Now I would never object to a bike lane.”
After the vigil, the mood lightened in some parts of the crowd. Music started playing from a pedicab decorated with Christmas lights. Some even danced.
To see more Streetsblog photos from the event, click here.
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