Last weekend, a group of cycling advocates installed a memorial for a cyclist who was killed in a collision with a semi-truck.
Ernie Gabbs, a 69-year-old Kelowna resident, died at the intersection of Dillworth Drive and Harvey Avenue on Aug. 12, while riding his hand-cycle, a modified cycle for those who have lost the use of their legs.
|Ernie Gabbs (Springfield Funeral Home)|
Members of the Kelowna Area Cycling Coalition, a cycling advocacy and education group that has been around in Kelowna since the late 90s, set up the memorial on Aug. 18. Gabbs’ ghost bike marks the group’s fifth since it started placing them in 2015.
“We take a bike that has lived out its life and we paint it all white. We then install it at the location where the person lost their life in a way to be visible as a memorial to try and bring awareness to what’s happening on the road,” said Landon Bradshaw, former president and current member of the coalition.
Bradshaw, a stranger to Gabbs, recalls Gabbs riding past him earlier that morning.
“He had just ridden by me about an hour and a half before (the collision) happened,” said Bradshaw.
Gabbs lost the use of his legs in a workplace accident in 1992. The bike he was riding was a bike he’d had for over 20 years, the first hand-cycle he bought after his accident.
At the installation of the memorial on Sunday, the same day as Gabbs’ funeral, Bradshaw said there were around 100 people there, including Gabbs’ friends and family.
Bradshaw said as he was bringing the bike to the memorial location on a cargo trailer attached to his bike he was met by 30-40 cyclists who met up and rode with him.
“I was in front with the ghost bike and it was really moving to see the number of people in the parking lot waiting for us to arrive,” said Bradshaw.
“A lot of times we’ll have just a few people show up; never more than 10.
“His widow thanked me for putting this together so she feels like she has someplace to come and be a bit closer to him.”
One of Gabbs’ family members donated a wheel from the bike he was riding that day, which is also now part of the memorial.
Bradshaw shared some advice for motorists to be more cautious of cyclists on the roadway.
“One of the tricks that I’ve learned—and passed on to my daughter—is counting the cyclists that you come across,” said Bradshaw.
“When you begin looking for cyclists you start seeing them.”