cyclist killed nikita

Ontario heartbroken by the loss of 10-year-old cyclist killed by driver

Just weeks after Toronto's first cyclist fatality of 2021, another tragedy struck when 10-year-old cyclist Nikita Victoria Belykh was struck and killed by a car just north of the city, near Highway 7 and Dufferin Street on September 1.

The family of the victim released a statement last week through the York Regional Police, saying, "We are utterly shocked and heartbroken by the tragic loss of Nikita - a beloved daughter, granddaughter, sister and shining star."

"She had a huge heart, was courageous, very friendly and full of life. She touched the lives of many in her short time here on earth."

Included in the statement is a link to a GoFundMe page set up by the family six days ago with the goal of raising $40,000. This goal has already been shattered, with donations at over $54,000 at the time of writing.

Like the last cyclist's death in the region, the victim was honoured with a funereal ghost bike ride on the one-week anniversary of her death, a tradition in the cycling community where a white-painted "ghost bike" is placed at the scene where the tragedy occurred.

Cycling groups including Friends and Families for Safe Streets (FFSS) and Advocacy For Respect For Cyclists (ARC) were in attendance, gathering outside of Finch subway station before departing north on a route towards the scene where the young cyclist was struck.

The procession arrived at the Thornhill site, where a large memorial was already in place. Finally, the ghost bike was installed, bringing a lasting monument for Nikita to the site.

Jessica Spieker, spokesperson for FFSS, tells blogTO, "there is no amount of driving convenience that is worth more than a child's life. Nikita's family has been thrust into a nightmare that they will never wake up from."

Nikita's is the sixth such ghost bike installed in the Greater Toronto Area this year, and the third ghost bike installed to mark the loss of a child in the region for 2021. This latest fatality follows the loss of a six-year-old in Mississauga and an eleven-year-old in Markham earlier this year.

"The senseless death of a child is the most painful thing that life can possibly offer a parent. It is perverse that as a society, we so often do nothing to prevent these deaths from being inflicted again in the future when there are so many simple, cost-effective solutions at our fingertips. The main missing ingredient for life-saving change is political will from our elected officials," says Spieker.

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