Riding Off into the Sunset
A story about a palliative care patient who was given an opportunity during his last days to relive his passion for getting around on two wheels thanks to the teams from Bruyère’s palliative care unit and the Cycling Without Age program which offers an opportunity for individuals with limited mobility to leave their hospital bed, take a trip down memory lane or just enjoy the outdoors.
Very few people in Ottawa can say they have embraced the car-free lifestyle as fully as Chris Bradshaw. Loving husband to Maryann, fond father to Karen and Laura and doting grandad to Soren, Marae, Gryffudd and Declan, Chris is a man of many passions.
He was a former leader of the federal Green Party, co-founder of Pednet, North America’s first pedestrian/walkers rights association as well as co founder of a car-sharing service Vrtucar. He worked to create groups like Ottawalk and Communi-Ties to help support pedestrians, bikes and seniors’ rights and encourage car-lite community living. These initiatives stemmed from his early years as Community Relations Officer at the City of Ottawa where he worked for 21 years. Through all his passions, you would often find Chris out and about, on his bikes. He has been proudly car-free for over 25 years.
His daughter, Karen, says her dad has had them all – recumbent bikes, fold-up bikes, tandem bikes and bike trailers, plus all the attachments! Chris was often spotted commuting great distances to fetch groceries or get to meetings, but was most fondly remembered as carting around unusually large loads behind his bike at the Great Glebe Garage Sale.
So it would only make sense that Bruyère staff and Cycling Without Age volunteers would answer the call of Chris’s family, to give him a final ride, after Chris was admitted to Bruyère’s palliative care unit in early October, suffering from a rare aggressive heart tumor. Bruyère nursing staff got him ready to go, and he was bundled up in the Cycling Without Age trishaw for an hour-long ride on a mild and sunny fall afternoon. Chris took in the sights of the National Gallery, the Alexandra Bridge and some 10 blocks of the Byward Market, even getting his picture taken in front of the large “Ottawa” sign still in place after Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations. Says Karen: “I hadn’t seen him that happy in months since he got his diagnosis. It was really quite lovely. […] Once he was back in his room, he was on a high for days.” By happy coincidence, many family members were on hand to witness the event, including long-separated siblings who were in town for an impromptu Bradshaw reunion, some from Calgary, Vancouver and Victoria, as well as some coming from as far as Washington State and Colorado.
In his daughter Karen’s words, “Biking, walking, living in the moment” was his motto. He always lived in the moment, even when it wasn’t easy. He did it when people didn’t understand; he did it when people made fun of him. […] But he was still pushing forward and authentically living that lifestyle, until the final sun would set.
Chris Bradshaw with his daughters, Karen and Laura.
Chris BradshawObituary: Chris Bradshaw, 'Car-lite' advocate, co-founded Vrtucar
1944 - 2018
Chris also had a blog where he would write about buidling the walkable fabric of communities through car-lite living.
Thanks to the Bradshaw family for giving us permission to use the video footage.