It’s been a little over a month since cyclist Jeff Vervaeke succumbed to injuries he sustained when he was stuck by a vehicle while cycling – and his fellow cyclists have decided to honour his memory in a unique and striking way.
Vervaeke was participating in a charity bike ride called 7 Days in May when he was one of several cyclists struck by the vehicle, which collided with a group of cyclists in Amherstview on Sunday, May 27, 2018. The group was raising funds for Pancreatic Cancer Canada. Vervaeke passed away less than a week later on Friday, Jun. 1.
To honour their fellow cyclist, those who participated in the 7 Days in May ride have decided to install a ‘ghost bike’ at the place where Vervaeke was struck. A ghost bike, sometimes also referred to as a ghostcycle or WhiteCycle, is a bicycle roadside memorial placed where a cyclists has been killed or severely injured.
“Basically, given the tragic accident that took Jeff’s life, we wanted to honour his love of cycling and do something to remember him,” said Gord Townley, organizer of the 7 Days in May ride.
“With the number of deaths recently in southern Ontario, we thought a ghost bike would be a meaningful way to do that. And we know that he would definitely appreciate that.”
A group of cyclists, including some from the 7 Days in May ride, as well as some of Vervaeke’s friends, family, and other fellow cyclists, will host a ghost bike ride on Saturday, Jul. 14. The ride will begin at the W.J. Henderson Recreation Centre in Amherstview and travel approximately seven kilometres to the site where Vervaeke was hit on Highway 33 in Bath, near Jim Snow Road. Anyone want to participate in the ride can join the cyclists at the Rec. Centre at 10:30 a.m.
For Townley and those with 7 Days in May, the hope is that the ride and the memorial ghost bike will not only honour Vervaeke’s memory, but serve as a constant reminder to those who pass the memorial site.
“If seeing that bike helps just one cyclist or pedestrian be a little safer, then we know it was worth it,” Townley said.
“We hope it will be a permanent reminder of what happened as well as reminding all passersby to be safe – drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. Share the road. Be respectful.”
Find out more about the memorial ride here.