A Ghost Bike Memorial Ride for prominent Toronto architect and urbanist, Roger du Toit

bike plaque
CC BY 2.0 Lloyd Alter

There is a tradition in the Toronto cycling community: The Ghost Bike Memorial Ride, where cyclists meet in a mid-town park one week after a cyclist dies on the road, do a mass ride to the location where the cyclist died, place a ghost bike at the site and share a moment of silence in memory of the cyclist. It is both an act of honoring the cyclist and protesting the conditions that make these so common; this is the 66th that they have done. This is the second I have done where I personally knew the victim.

© Roger Dutoit

Roger du Toit was well known in the architecture community; as his obituary notes, he was multi-talented;

Roger's professional life spanned three continents and more than 50 years. Educated as an architect and urban designer first in South Africa and later at the University of Toronto, Roger began his working life at the offices of H.G. Huckle & Partners in London, England. In 1966 he joined John Andrews Architects in Toronto, where he played a pivotal role in the design of Toronto's CN Tower and Canberra's Municipal Offices at Belconnen, along with leading the firm’s urban design and master planning divisions. Establishing his own architecture and urban design practice in the early 1970's, and later achieving designation as a certified landscape architect, Roger dedicated his career to the integration of these three disciplines of design.

Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

I did not expect much of a turnout at Matt Cohen Park in the pouring rain, but as 9:00 approached there in fact were quite a few people there, including partners and employees of the firm. Looking drenched in the green poncho on the left is Yvonne Bambrick, author of the recently published Urban Cycling Survival Guide, reviewed here.

Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

It was a short, easy ride along Toronto's tony Bloor Street, with nary a honk from the cars around us.

Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

The route took us past Roger's office (the DTAH stands for Du Toit Allsopp Hillier). This is a very important Toronto building designed by John B. Parkin Associates in 1954 as headquarters for the Ontario Association of Architects. When the OAA stupidly moved to the suburbs, du Toit Allsopp Hillier purchased it restored it; the building is now recognized as one that "demonstrates architecture’s beauty, endurance and lasting contribution to the community and to society."

We stopped in front and rang our bells, holding up a lot of traffic. Again, surprisingly, nobody honked.

Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

Then the bike is fastened to an electrical pole and we have a moment of silence. It is a very fancy part of town; I wonder how long this ghost bike will last before they get residents get the city to cut it off.

Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

It looks like a quiet residential street, but this is actually a busy T intersection. Roger was riding in from the side street, and was hit by a woman driving an SUV through where I am taking the photo from. It is almost a blind intersection thanks to the tree and fence, and the curve in the street. The police are still investigating and have not reported on what actually happened, but I was surprised that there are no stop signs except on the side street; almost every intersection in Toronto is a three or four way stop. I learned that in fact, the City recognized that the intersection was dangerous and Council approved stop signs in February. Being Toronto, It's June and they haven't got around to it.

© DTAH

It's all a big numbing, to have known two people who have died on their bikes, in a city that can find half a billion to fix an expressway but can't find the money to fix roads and make them safe for cyclists or keep the subway system running. How many more cyclists and pedestrians have to die before they make that a priority instead of pandering to cars?

Here is a video from the blog, Biking in the Big City:

Tags: Bike-Friendly World | Bikes | Biking | Toronto

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