Touching procession honors slain bicyclist

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Story and photos by Kristin A. Smith

Some came on fixed gears with spotless rims, others on basement bikes with balding tires. Some were clad in safety orange, others in business suits. They came from all parts of the city, with pants rolled and lights blinking, to mourn the loss of one of their own.

Jordan McKay, 23, was shot and killed on September 17 while commuting home from the East Bay. Police are chalking the incident up to “road rage” but aren’t close to making an arrest.

Last night’s route followed McKay’s final ride through the Panhandle and Golden Gate Park to 15th and Cabrillo, the site of the murder. A black and white spoke card with McKay’s picture and the words “Live. Love. Laugh. Ride.” spun in the riders’ wheels.

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“His death is shocking,” said Bert Hill, who taught a bike safety class that Jordan took last year. “The kind of people who spend four hours on a Friday night learning about bike safety are not the kind who get into rough and tumble fights.”

Jordan, a University of California at Santa Cruz graduate who dreamed of starting a micro-lending business to help people rise above poverty, was known for his peaceful nature. “He was really loved,” said Elisa Litsky, Jordan’s girlfriend. “And he was so dedicated to those that he loved; he held them so close to his heart.”

Upon Litsky’s suggestion, mourners threw out adjectives that represented Jordan. “Fun, hilarious, beautiful, creative…” the words flew from the crowd. Bike bells dinged in applause.

Jordan’s father, a statuesque and handsome man, spoke next. “They have killed Jordan,” he said, eyes misting up, “but his light continues to shine in each of us—every one of us who tries to make this a better place.”

In Jordan’s mind, part of making the world a better place was riding his bike. As a San Francisco Bicycle Coalition member, he was active in the cycling community. “Part of why he started biking was because of his ethics…this is what he would really want,” said Litsky, looking out over the crowd. She never wavered, never cried. “Our purpose tonight is to celebrate Jordan’s life and do part of his commute.”

The event was more “Take Back the Night” than “Critical Mass.” Richmond residents were shocked that a murder took place in their normally quiet neighborhood and many were afraid to venture out. “We want to show them it’s safe,” said Litsky.

The ride, which had police escorts, serpentined slowly through the city. More than 200 riders pedaled to the site of the shooting, where a delicate memorial blanketed a tree. Litsky held Jordan’s mother closely; riders bowed their heads. When all the candles were lit and the flowers placed, the group rode toward the ocean, wheels spinning silently.