A well-known advocate for safe cycling in Saskatoon has died at the age of 72.
Cathy Watts was co-chair of Saskatoon Cycles for 10 years. She suffered a severe stroke last week and passed away Tuesday.
Just the day before, more than 200 people biked through her neighbourhood in a show of support.
“I saw her through her window, surrounded by family, I thought she looked really good,” said John Dosman, a board member of Saskatoon Cycles.
“To find out the next day that she passed away was really sad but I also was really happy we all got together to do something for her the day before.”
Watts had been vocal about issues surrounding cycling and accompanying infrastructure and advocated to make biking better in Saskatoon.
Dosman remembers her as a “spitfire” who worked hard to get her way, even if people didn’t agree.
“Her solution to that, which is what I learned from her, is creating community,” he said.
“Instead of banging her head against the wall as one person, if you surround yourself by lots of good people and if you’re fighting a good fight and you believe in it and if you bring soup and snacks to any meeting, then you can get things done and not get discouraged.”
Saskatoon Cycles shared an obituary, written from Watts’ own perspective, online. In it, she talks about her love for her family and Saskatoon.
She also reaffirms how “passionately in love with cycling” she was.
“The very first time I got on a bike it was like no other feeling,” the obituary reads.
“For a lot of my life cycling wasn’t much in style. Certainly not in winter. At some point, I thought, ‘I need to change this!’”
The obituary says she dreamed Saskatoon could become one of the best bike cities in the world.
“If you are reading this, don’t be sad and certainly don’t send flowers,” the obituary continues.
“Here’s what I want you to do instead. Support my beloved Saskatoon Cycles, because there’s still a lot of work to do. Then get on a bike, head for a trail and feel what it’s like to be free.”
Dosman said Saskatoon Cycles is looking at naming some type of cycling infrastructure after Watts to honour her memory.