‘It could happen to anybody’: Calgary’s motorcycle community mourns early season death

Todd Gilman is remembered as an avid volunteer, supportive friend and someone who loved his dog and his motorcycle.

Gilman was killed in a motorcycle accident on Stoney Trail on April 15, when he crossed the fog median, crashed into a post and was thrown from his bike. He was transported to hospital with serious injuries where he later died.

Members and staff at the Veterans Association Food Bank (VAFD) where Gilman was a client before becoming a volunteer are trying to make sense of the tragedy.

“We may not have seen him every day, but you kind of knew he was out there and to know that he’s not going to come back through the doors again, it’s hard,” said Charles Redeker, operations manager at VAFD.

Redeker says Gilman was upfront about who he was and made no false pretenses. Some people found it intimidating but Redeker said Gilman would do anything to help his brothers and sisters with whom he served.

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Read more: Motorcyclist killed in fatal collision in southeast Calgary

“He was one of those people that if you were struggling yourself and you just needed to talk to somebody you could pick up the phone and call him and he’d be there to listen,” Redeker said.

Gilman’s death has also impacted Calgary’s motorcycle community. It’s described as a tightknit community that is now planning a memorial ride in honour of the man they call ‘Big Red’.

“He never backed down from anything, you knew his opinion all the time,” laughed Ashlee Taylor, founder of One Broken Biker. “But he loved the biking community, he loved his motorcycle, he loved his dog.”

Gilman’s is the second motorcycle death this year, both were single vehicle collisions. Taylor said all fatalities hit the community hard.

Click to play video: 'Police share motorcycle safety advice after multi-collision weekend'

Police share motorcycle safety advice after multi-collision weekend

“When there’s a fatality this early in the season, it just rocks us,” said Taylor. “Even if you didn’t know Todd or the gentleman before, it shakes us and it’s worrisome every time you get on that bike.”

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Gilman was an experienced motorcyclist who knew his limits. Taylor said there is an added risk getting on a motorcycle at this time of year as riders return to the road after taking the winter months off.

“You get on that motorcycle, you’re excited,” Taylor said. “It can just be a wrong adjustment into a curve, it could happen to anyone.”

The Calgary Police Service is reminding motorcyclists to follow posted speed limits and be aware of road conditions, saying there are many factors that can lead to a collision.

“Road conditions aren’t what they are in the summer,” said Sgt. Dale Seddon with the CPS traffic division.

“We really want motorcyclists to be aware about speeding, with an increase in speed comes an increase in being involved in a collision.”

— With files from Meghan Cobb, Global News

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