“I kissed her goodbye…and she never made it back home.”
Rory McDonald remembers the tragic death of his wife, Deborah Ambrose-McDonald, who was hit and killed by a bicyclist on a Beloit sidewalk back in September. On Thursday, a “little free library” was unveiled in her name, to memorialize her spirit.
“The whole thing right there embodies her so much,” said McDonald.”There’s the black cat on there, there’s the stand-up string bass, there’s the books.”
Executive Director of the Downtown Beloit Association, Shauna El-Amin, says she thought a “little free library” would be the perfect memorial.
“We do have about six of them throughout downtown Beloit, that are in memory of different people,” said El-Amin. “So we thought that would be a good tribute. And there’s a bench right next to it! So it’s a good place to sit down and read a book.”
But that isn’t all El-Amin has done following the tragic accident. She has also pushed for stronger enforcement of city ordinances, which say bicyclists are prohibited from riding on the sidewalks. The city now asking merchants to remind bicyclists of the rules as they go by, and adding signs to the sidewalks that read: “Skateboards, inline skates, and bikes prohibited”.
“One of the problems is that people don’t know all the rules and regulations to bicycles,” explained El-Amin. “They just get on their bicycle and go. So the signage was a way for us to remind them that that is an ordinance in place.”
The fine for breaking the ordinance is $100. McDonald says that’s not good enough.
“You need a deterant that will stop people from continuing to take those risks,” he said.
McDonald says while he works to get the ordinance changed, he will volunteer as a police reserve to help enforce the ordinance downtown; an idea suggested by the Police Chief.
“He said to me, ‘Would you do it?’ and I said ‘Yeah, I wanna save lives’.”