Jillian Friedrich, who was hit by a car and killed while bicycling last month in north Minneapolis, left an impression on people she never met.
Out of the 30 cyclists who participated in a memorial bike ride Thursday evening, only one person knew her. Those who didn’t know Friedrich, a bioscience researcher at the University of Minnesota, said they joined the early evening ride out of recognition that her accident could have happened to any of them.
“This hits close to home. I bike everywhere, and we are about the same age,” said Sarah Woessner, an avid bike rider who also works at the U. “I would want people to do the same if it were me.”
Friedrich, 34, of Columbia Heights, was riding to volunteer at Higher Ground Catholic Charities near downtown Minneapolis just before sunrise on Aug. 17 when she was struck near the intersection of Lowry Avenue and 2nd Street N. The vehicle’s driver, Ryan W. Peterson, 25, of Minneapolis, stayed at the scene and cooperated with investigators, police said.
On Thursday evening, the group met at the intersection where she was hit, then rode the three miles to Higher Ground.
Clay Washington said his daughter, India, initially had planned to ride with another group Thursday night, but choose to “do this ride in honor of Jill.”
Ethan Fawley, executive director of Our Streets, which organized the event, said it carries out memorial rides for anyone who is killed walking or biking in the city.
“We hope you will join as well to remember Jill and show support and to work together so this never happens again,” said a posting on the Our Streets Facebook page. “This ride is to remember her and show support for her family and friends who are grieving.”
Fawley said he had been in touch with Friedrich’s family and although they were supportive, “it’s too soon for them to come out to where she was killed.”
As the group finished the ride and biked into the parking lot at Higher Ground, Manny Taitingfong greeted them outside with a smile.
“Thank you for riding for Jill,” he said.
Taitingfong said Friedrich was his mentor on the Higher Ground running team. She was supposed to run side-by-side with him in the Twin Cities half-marathon in September.
“When I heard [about her death], I walked out the building and started crying,” he said.
The first time the running group met after Friedrich was killed, Taitingfong told the group to let her memory be an inspiration.
“Just remember one runner,” he told them. “We are running for her.”
Taitingfong said a memorial for Friedrich is being planned at Higher Ground. It will include a bike, candles and a framed photo of her.
After the ride, a group a few volunteers stayed to serve dinner at Higher Ground.
“We are all part of a community, and it’s really just to say we are here to remember Jill,” Fawley said. “She should be alive.”
Staff writer Tim Harlow contributed to this report.