Seattle's cycling community took to social media to mourn the death of cyclist S.J. Brooks, who died after a cougar attack.
Seattle’s cycling community took to social media this week to mourn the death of cyclist S.J. Brooks, who died from a cougar attack near North Bend on Saturday.
Brooks, who used the pronoun “they,” was at the time riding with Izzy Sederbaum, who also suffered injuries but survived. After Brooks’ fatal last ride, Seattle Bike Blog collected remembrances from members of Seattle’s bike community. Many expressed shock and sadness at the loss of someone described as “inspiring” and “a positive light.”
Brooks was the co-founder of the Seattle chapter of the Friends on Bikes organization, which is dedicated to “fostering a community for women of color who love riding bikes.” According to the Friends on Bikes website, Brooks had been riding bikes since childhood, “crushing down the Shunga Trail” in Kansas.
It seems that was when Brooks caught the bug, a passion they brought to everything from bike commuting in Montreal to serving on the board of directors of Boston’s Bikes Not Bombs organization, which reclaims used bikes and parts and ships them to economic and youth-development organizations locally and overseas.
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A comment from Bikurious Montreal on the Friends on Bikes Instagram account recalled when Brooks first became interested in bike mechanics in Montreal: “I remember when they came into my shop years and years ago yo here in Montreal and they were just starting to get into bike mechanics. They got some parts and we stayed in touch and I saw their progression from basic understand to mechanic guru and enthusiast. So much love from Montreal. I am devastated to hear this.”
Brooks was also involved in efforts to make the biking community a more welcoming and safe place for women, trans and nonbinary cyclists of color. According to an interview Tom Fucoloro conducted with Brooks for Seattle Bike Blog in 2017, Brooks had seen a lack of representation of women, trans, femme and nonbinary people of color in the community, and described mistreatment of such cyclists in bike shops.
Brooks had planned to speak in August at the upcoming WTF Bikexplorers Summit, an event in Whitefish, Montana, intended to connect women, trans, femme and nonbinary cyclists over a weekend of rides and educational sessions.
To promote inclusivity in the biking community, the Summit has renamed one of their scholarships to honor Brooks. The scholarship will allow five “women, trans, femme and nonbinary” cyclists to attend the conference. The scholarship was funded by a GoFundMe page that quickly surpassed its goal of $2,500, with 55 people raising $4,390 in eight days, several of them donating in honor of Brooks.
According to a WTF Bikexplorers’ Instagram post, additional funds will go toward lowering the cost of attending the summit as well as another scholarship fund in honor of Brooks for future events.
A GoFundMe page to assist with Sederbaum’s medical expenses has also been established.
Beyond Brooks’ critical work for social change, they are remembered as a kind and fun-loving person. Staff from Seattle’s G&O Family Cyclery, where Brooks worked, wrote on Twitter that Brooks was “strong, smart, kind and generous. And funny as hell.”