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I was in San Diego on the Westward Ho! Bikexploitation tour when the city was removing Atip’s Ghost Bike a day before they had agreed to do so. Our host frantically ran out of his home, incredulous that the city was resorting to deception. If cities continue to remove the bikes as a nuisance (or whatever lame reason they choose) then bikers wanting to remember their fallen friends will need to be more clever.

I remember helping memorialize bikers who were maimed or killed in Portland. We used large stencils and laid some thick white paint down on the road. We were so worried about being seen we had a team of lookouts with two-way radios. It is insane to think that we US citizens, “the freest people in the world” needed too use such subterfuge in order to say, “A friend was killed here, so please be careful.”

This was before I knew about Ghost Bikes, which allow for more creativity, but also require ongoing maintenance. If they are not kept fresh and pretty they become an “eyesore” to some. Looking at a faded white bike with a rusted chain and some dead flowers isn’t that hard on the eyes, not as compared to the accident that brought the bike in the first place.

One behavior I have tried to curb is my referring to these incidents as “accidents.” While I generally hope that most drivers are not trying to actively harm cyclists I feel that the automatic assumption of “best intentions” is wrong. Spilled milk is an accident, 43,000 deaths involving auto collisions is an epidemic.





Photo by Susan Williams -