Joanna Barcessat, a 51-year-old Montreal entrepreneur and mother, died on Tuesday from her injuries, six days after being involved in a collision with a car while cycling in Lachine.
Hundreds of people, some who said they barely knew her, have flooded social media sites and the funeral home’s page with touching tributes and shocked expressions of grief.
“I have met Joanna many years ago, but only really have gotten to know her over the past few years as a client to her business. She truly was a beautiful, sweet and bright person, “ one woman wrote. Numerous comments focused on how Barcessat shone with warmth and kindness and that she “had a smile that could light up a room,” one person offered.
“She always greeted me with a warm smile and friendly conversation,” shared another.
Montreal police said the collision occurred on Oct. 27 at about 7:20 a.m., when a car collided with a bicycle at the intersection of St-Pierre Ave. and Notre Dame St. in Lachine.
The 26-year-old driver was heading west, while Barcessat was cycling south at the time, according to police spokesperson Jean-Pierre Brabant.
Questioned Thursday about the status of the investigation, Brabant said the working theory based on witness statements, is that one of the vehicles may not have respected the traffic signals.
However, he said investigators are still analyzing the evidence, including videos from the day of the collision, and it may be weeks before that’s confirmed.
RECENTLY RENEWED HER PASSION FOR CYCLING
That Barcessat died as a result of this type of collision seems all the more heartbreaking given that in a recent interview she gave, she said she had just rediscovered her love of cycling.
Barcessat ran two juice bars in the city, and like other business owners, according to the article, had to close up shop when the pandemic hit.
Craving some outdoor time during lockdown, she is said to have returned to a favourite stress-busting pastime.
Barcessat is quoted in Readers Digest Best Health in April 2021 as saying, “I had this joke: My store could be on fire, and I’m not giving up my bike ride.”
The ‘Rejuice Nutrition’ Facebook page was sombre on Nov. 3, posting a black square and noting the locations were closed for the day.
CYCLING COMMUNITY SADDENED
It wasn’t long after Barcessat died of her injuries on Nov. 2 that a small Montreal organization that installs ‘ghost bikes’ around the city, a tribute to cyclists who have been killed, began receiving emails from her friends, Severine Le Page from Velo Fantome told CTV News.
“A few of her friends contacted us this week asking if we could install a ghost bike,” Le Page said, explaining that the small group of volunteers hadn’t had time to respond yet but she promised they won’t let it go.
“The first step is always to get the family’s authorization,” Le Page said, adding that if the family would like to memorialize Barcessat in that way, they “will accompany them and will try and help them heal in any way possible,” Le Page said.
And even though the exact circumstances surrounding the collision are still unknown, the cycling advocate said “the infrastructure [for cyclists] is quite horrible at that location.”
This is the fourth fatality involving a cyclist on the roads in 2021, according to Montreal police.