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Cycling advocates want permanent memorial to mark where cyclist died

Junfeng Wu was cycling to work on the Sir John A. MacDonald Parkway on December 7 when he was hit by a van taxi and died.
2018-12-16 Jungeng Wu cyclist
A ghost bike memorial is installed near the site where cyclist Junfeng Wu died. Photo/Graham Page

Cyclists want a permanent memorial installed for an Ottawa man who lost his life while riding his bicycle in early December.

Junfeng Wu was cycling to work on the Sir John A. MacDonald Parkway on December 7 when he was hit by a van taxi and died. 

Roughly 40 to 50 people braved freezing rain Friday evening to attend a vigil held near the location of the crash and to pay their respects to the fallen cyclist. Wu's widow, Ying Lu, and Kitchessippi City Councillor Jeff Leiper attended the vigil.

The vigil's organizers now want to keep the momentum from the event going to make sure no more cyclists die on Ottawa's roads.

"It can't go unnoticed. It can't be swept under the rug because there are alternatives and we can't allow it to happen," said Natasha Zanolin, who organized the vigil with her husband, Eric Thibault.

The couple didn't know Wu, but felt compelled to arrange a vigil to mourn the loss of the cyclist when they saw images of the accident.

"That could have been any one of us and I think that's what really struck home," Zanolin said. 

During the vigil, a ghost bike memorial was chained near the site of the crash, but cyclists want something more permanent to mark the tragedy. Zanolin said she plans to reach out to Heritage Canada to find out what needs to be done to erect such a memorial. 

Thibault said a memorial would pay tribute to both Wu's memory and other cyclists across Canada who have died in accidents. 

"I think a monument on NCC property would be the next step so that we keep talking about it," Thibault said. 

On the morning Wu died, a pathway not far from the site of the accident had not been cleared of snow. It is unknown whether Wu would have taken the bike path if it was clear, but Zanolin said there is a likelihood he may have taken it rather than choosing to go on the road that day. 

Zanolin said a short term solution to make sure something similar does not happen again would simply be to make sure bike paths are kept clear so that cyclists are not forced to go on busy roads. She said the city also needs a long term strategy to implement better infrastructure for cyclists such as separate bike lanes. 

"There definitely needs to be more investment put in a safe infrastructure so that everybody who wants to commute in whatever capacity, whether it be walking to work or cycling to work, they can do so and they're safe," Zanolin said. 

The RCMP said the investigation into the incident is ongoing and that no charges have been laid.


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