Biking meant a lot to Will Lindsay and Sylvie Smith.

The two, partners for five years, lived in Strawberry Mansion, and felt most free during the time they spent together on the road, Smith said. They aspired to bike across the United States, with some of their most memorable days coming as they embarked on rides across the Benjamin Franklin Bridge to get lost somewhere in rural South Jersey.

Lindsay, 32, was adventurous, positive, and had an energy for life, Smith said.

On July 12, biking to meet her and some friends to catch the sunset, he was killed by a driver in a hit-and-run crash on Ridge Avenue.

“I wanted to give him the world he wanted when he was with me,” said Smith, 30, “and he’s no longer with me, and I have to think of ways that I can still honor him and make sure that his death was not in vain.”

Along with the support of Lindsay’s family, Smith and her brother, Felix, organized a solidarity ride for Sunday not only as a memorial for him, but “for everyone who’s ever been lost on a bicycle,” she said. A GoFundMe drive in Lindsay’s name has raised more than $55,000 for the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and Neighborhood Bike Works.

Sylvie Smith and Will Lindsay, who had been together for five years. Lindsay was killed by a driver while riding his bike along Ridge Avenue on July 12.
Sylvie Smith
Sylvie Smith and Will Lindsay, who had been together for five years. Lindsay was killed by a driver while riding his bike along Ridge Avenue on July 12.

Lindsay is one of three cyclists killed during traffic crashes in Philadelphia within a month. Nadir Holloman, 18, was struck and killed crossing Kelly Drive on July 7. Samuel Ozer, 17, was killed cycling along Henry Avenue and Barnes Street in Roxborough on June 21.

Michael Hackman, 64, died after a bike crash in Chester County on Saturday, according to the West Chester Daily Local News.

Sunday’s event also doubles as a call for greater safety measures to protect cyclists, such as slowing traffic and adding protected bike lanes. The all-level, 12-mile ride begins at 1 p.m. near the Dell Music Center in East Fairmount Park and ends at East Laurel Hill Cemetery. More information on the event can be found online.

“This ride is not just a memorial,” Smith said. “This ride is for every member of the cyclist community, or anyone who supports the cyclist community, to come together and look at each other and see each other for the huge group of people that we are and recognize that our lives are worth it. We are not expendable.”

The coalition is “deeply honored” by the fundraising efforts, executive director Sarah Clark Stuart said. The donation, which it “very desperately” needs, will go toward policy advocacy, she said.

The city has a goal of no traffic deaths of any kind by 2030 through Vision Zero, its safe streets initiative. In a statement, Mike Carroll, deputy managing director for transportation, infrastructure, and sustainability, said “traffic violence” was “a serious public safety threat to Philadelphians.”

“But traffic crashes are not accidents; they are preventable incidents,” he said. “To meaningfully reduce traffic fatalities in Philadelphia, we must persevere in bringing state and city government officials, members of the community, and advocacy groups together to implement strategies that make our streets safer for all.”

In May, Mayor Jim Kenney said traffic safety violations have “increasingly become a dangerous side effect of the stay-at-home order.” Aggressive driving has increased with fewer vehicles on the road.

Another ripple effect of the pandemic? A bike boom. Demand for bicycles has jumped, with many turning to bikes as a form of transportation or recreational activity as gyms remained closed.

The coalition has joined other groups in unveiling a “Recovery Streets” effort in May outlining ways the pandemic could lead to better public spaces in Philadelphia, including temporary protected bike lanes.

“There are a lot of tools available to the city and the state, and it’s up to the elected officials and our leadership to deploy them,” Stuart said, “and deploy them as soon as possible.”