'Take cycling safety seriously': Widow of North Vancouver cyclist calls for better bike lanes

A North Vancouver woman is calling for safer cycling infrastructure one year after her husband was killed while riding in a dedicated bike lane.

Mike McIntosh was riding on the West Esplanade bike path in North Vancouver last January when a parked car opened its door into the bike lane.

McIntosh was knocked into traffic and was struck by a dump truck. He died at the scene.

On Sunday, a group of cyclists toured the city in memory of McIntosh. They locked a ghost bike — a bike painted white in memory of a cyclist who was killed — to a post on the block where McIntosh died.

His wife, Kim Brooks, said she hopes it encourages more drivers to be mindful of cyclists. 

"He was a kind, thoughtful man who lived his life with purpose," Brooks said.

"He was very bright, he was a professional man. He was a husband, a son, a brother and a friend, and I enjoyed 15 years of marriage with him.

"It is near impossible to describe what it's like to wake up in the morning, kiss your husband, and have him not come home that night."

CBC/Jon Hernandez

McIntosh was an avid bike commuter to Simon Fraser University in downtown Vancouver, where he worked for 30 years as a librarian. He volunteered at Kickstand, a community bike shop. 

Cycling was "a part of his DNA," Brooks said, adding he was an accomplished rider who put safety above all else.

The bike lane on Esplanade West in North Vancouver at Lonsdale is set between parked cars and two lanes of traffic. Brooks says the city can't expect residents to embrace cycling and alternatives to driving if the infrastructure in place isn't safe.

She said the two strips of paint between traffic lanes that mark the bike lane on West Esplanade is not a safe example of biking infrastructure. 

"Even accomplished, skilled riders are in danger if we all don't do our part to keep the roads safe. We all have a responsibility in that," she said. 

"I want our municipal governments, all of our levels of government to take cycling safety seriously, to build cycling infrastructure that doesn't put people at risk."

CBC/Jon Hernandez