Tooker Gomberg lept to his death from the McDonald Bridge in Halifax two years ago, March 3 2004.
He was depressed, and taking prescription medication for his symptoms, but the medication was apparently making things worse. In any case, all that was found at the point where he lept was his bicycle and, perversely, his bicycle helmet.
The world may know Tooker as a fearless guy who suffered no fools gladly, or it may know him as a guy always fooling around, but there was a serious side and a foolish side to him, and most of us who know him saw both sides, sometimes both at once.
Alternatives magazine photo
This Friday, March 3 2006, some of the people who knew and loved Tooker, including his widow Angela Bischoff, are planning a little action that will perfectly capture both the prankster and prophet aspects of the man. If you are in Toronto, come out at 2:00 p.m. to Bloor St just east of Yonge, where a magical transformation of an extra-wide traffic lane is planned: the “launch” of the Tooker Gomberg Memorial Bike Lane. Ultimately, its backers hope, the city will paint bicycle lanes on both sides of the street from its eastern-most point as Danforth Road in Scarborough, to its western terminus as Bloor St. West at Kipling Ave. in Etobicoke.
Read more about the project at the “Take The Tooker” website.
When the ALLDERBLOB picked up its lance to start doing battle with the car ad windmills almost a year ago, one of the first things we did was look at what was out there on the subject of car advertisements. So we looked at AdBusters, we looked at StayFree, we looked at the work of our colleagues at Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists, among other places. You can google the phrase “ban car advertisements” or the like, and see where it gets you. One of the interesting sites that kept turning up was something called “asphalt strawberries.” It’s still out there.
But one piece we turned up was an essay by Tooker Gomberg in Alternatives Journal (published by the planning faculty at Waterloo University). According to the editor’s note it was in the works at the time of Tooker’s suicide and was among his last published pieces. Called “Every Breath You Take,” it dives straight into the problem of the car: its acceptance and promotion in our consumer culture.
Near the end of the piece, Tooker wrote:
Ban car ads. New drivers are seduced through slick, expensive and sophisticated advertising campaigns. Car ads should be prohibited because driving is a dangerous activity, killing around 3000 Canadians annually in crashes alone, not including those who lose their lives or are sickened from air pollution. The federal government estimates that every year 16,000 Canadians die prematurely from dirty air.
Tooker Gomberg accomplished a lot. He also left a lot for the rest of us to do. Let’s get going!
Oh–and bring some paint.