The Memorial Ride for Darcy Allan Sheppard

I joined the ride at about 5:10pm at Bay and Bloor. The ride went east, taking up the whole eastbound side of the road, to Yonge and then south to Queen. Riders rang bells constantly, but I opted for silence. The Toronto Star estimates that the event comprised about 1,000 cyclists.

At Dundas and Yonge a trumpeter was playing Taps. Yvonne Bambrick, executive director of the Toronto Cyclists Union, thanked pedestrians and motorists blocked by the ride for their patience and understanding. Going north on University, a woman shouted, “Our friend was murdered by the former attorney general of Ontario,” repeatedly. Tommy Toast and a friend opened a can of Grolsch, each took a swig and poured out beer for Sheppard. Later, a cyclist would make a similar offering at the Canada Post grey box on Bloor on which messages for Sheppard are attached. The cyclist would squat down beside the piece of street furniture that Sheppard collided with and break apart a cigarette.

When the ride got to Avenue and Bloor, at about 5:45pm, riders gathered around the site of Monday’s accident. Many raised their bikes up in salute. Friends of Sheppard put their bikes on the road and sat down. Stephanie Thompson, a friend who had seen Sheppard a few days before the accident held up a sign that read “Justice for Al.”

A man walking by the gathering said to his companion, “When you hang onto a car, that’s what you get.”

One cycle cop on the scene said to his co-worker, “You still with that beautiful broad?”

The reply: “Yup.”

A woman walking by said, “…and this ruined his political career.”

Around 6:15pm, the police, who had managed traffic around the protest, started corralling the remaining riders, either to bust up the event or open up an eastbound lane on Bloor. Some of the riders shouted at the police. Then they chanted, “Who’s streets? Our streets!” for a bit. But the crowd dwindled. By this time, I was on the north side of the street talking to some interested passersby.  We agreed that the best things that could come of this tragedy are more awareness and action for safe cycling in the city.

Click for pictures.

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