Monday, July 31, 2006

Ghost Bikes of Portland

[Readers: As usual, Blogger is indulging in an extended morning coffee break and is not letting me post my photos now. I will come back and put them in this evening. Check back with me.]

I first saw the white bicycle one day in late June as Lindi and I were driving down Martin Luther King Boulevard. I suggested that we pull around the next corner so we could walk up to it and see what it was for.

It’s a marker for the spot where a bicyclist was killed. His name was Chris Burris -- you can see it written there. I read in the paper it was placed there by his brother. He was killed September of 2005, almost a year ago. I don’t travel that street very often and hadn’t noticed it before.

It’s good that after all this time the city hasn’t come along and taken it away. I think it should be left there permanently. In a lot of other countries I’ve been in, people make little shrines by the side of the road where people have died in car accidents, especially out in the countryside. They are sobering to see, and work better than any traffic signs to lighten up your foot on the accelerator. Suddenly your mother’s there, saying “Watch where you’re going!” or “Keep your mind on what you’re doing!” or “Don’t be in such a hurry!” I don’t know about other people, but I always experience a somber moment of silence when I see one. On some roads there are lots of them, which makes you realize, “This is a crazy road,” and ask yourself, “What am I doing here? Can’t we take a different road? Can’t we just take a train or something?”

Someone was making a project of installing these ghost bikes at every site of a killed bicyclist. If you google ‘ghost bikes Portland’ you’ll find a lot of coverage. It looks like the project and its website are in a hiatus at the moment, but it was a good idea. Maybe it’ll be picked up again.

It was so sad, standing there looking at it, wondering about the very young man killed there. I wished I had some fresh flowers along to put in that jar.


At 12:45 PM, Anonymous Mick Ring said...

There were two ghost bikes on my route to work. Both have been removed.

At 1:01 PM, Blogger kate gawf said...

Bummer. I wonder who removed them. I doubt it was the city, because why would the city remove those and not this one? Can you tell me approximately where they were? Do you know how long they were up? I might ask the someone at the city what they know about the ghost bikes, and if they have any particular policy about them.


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