The silvery sound of bike bells rang out from a group of 300 cyclists as they arrived at the intersection where Johanna Dean died in a biking accident a week ago, her twin sister leading the pack in a pink shirt to honour Dean’s “vibrant” life and personality.
Julie Dean and other family members installed a white ghost bike at the intersection of Windmill Road and Albro Lake Road May 28 in memory of 30-year-old Johanna, who died May 21 after being struck by a truck while riding her bike.
“She radiated light onto everyone she connected with,” Julie said, wearing a pink shirt with “Angel” written on the front and silver wings on the back.
“It’s been a rough week, but it’s been a good week as well, because I’ve been given many opportunities to remember Johanna in a very, very, very positive way.”
She said her twin, who went to Dalhousie and Acadia universities, was teaching at St. Catherine’s Elementary School and also taught her “how to live a positive life.”
One of the five Dean sisters, Jackie, said she knew Johanna was there with Julie during the memorial ride from the Dartmouth Sportsplex.
“(Biking) just made her feel just grateful and happy,” Jackie said. “She was probably smiling and just loving that there was sun out that day.”
Over the past week, Jackie said dozens of Johanna’s friends have visited their home and made posters with photos of her throughout the years, with a lot of storytelling and laughing.
Jackie had talked with Johanna on the phone right before her bike ride, and both her and their mother had exchanged “I love you’s.”
“She was so happy, and that’s the last thing I have of her,” Jackie said with tears in her eyes, her voice breaking.
Their family hopes Johanna’s story makes an impact on bike safety in Halifax, Jackie said, so there’s “not going to be another tragedy.”
Julie said a “blessing in disguise” of Johanna’s passing is that her teaching will continue through raising awareness around cycling and the need for protected lanes, but also her spirituality and “how to live life properly.”
“So many people and souls coming together for something that was important to Johanna is … so helpful for us,” Jackie said as she looked at the hundreds of bikers surrounding her.
“I know Johanna is… looking down on us and smiling like she always does.”