Friday, March 30, 2012

A Portland Ghost Bike

According to  Wikipedia, a ghost bike or ghostcycle is a bicycle set up as a roadside memorial in a place where a cyclist has been killed or severely injured (usually by a motor vehicle).

The first ghost bike I witnessed was in the mid-1990's around SE Hawthorne Blvd. A guy was killed by a car while riding his bike. His girlfriend locked a ghost bike to the sign post on the corner where he was killed and decorated it frequently with fresh flowers. The bike, the death, the girlfriend stuck in my mind. The idea to have someone you love never come home again crushed me. To have found love and never be able to see it all the way through seemed tragic. We all have our philosophies and coping mechanisms for death. When the time came for the city to remove the bike, the home owners at the corner where the ghost bike lived continued with the memorial. It's been a good 17 years since the death of the boyfriend. Whenever I drive past there, I feel the same as I did so long ago, sad about the potential of a life together that young couple had taken away extremely early on in life and aware of my own chances of death by car.

Funny how I tend to forget such important concepts. An old man, with a long gray beard drove next to me the other day long enough to tell me out his truck window, "You're not invulnerable, ya know." I smiled at him; he drove away.

I feel agile and fast on my bike. I love the feeling.

Lately, on my way around town and home, a ghost bike has been catching my attention. I've biked, drove, and walked past it for years before now without fully noticing it. I walked to the ghost bike one morning to take photos for my blog. I got a few good shots and edited them trying to get an unearthly feeling in the photo. I researched the story of this ghost bike to try to give more to the photo. 24 year-old Nick Bucher rode into the path of a car Friday, February 2, 2007 just before midnight: a chance intersection of two people's lives resulting in the death of one (the one on the bike). He was riding home from work. It's been 5 years of living since this death.


I see this bike all the time now as I drive, bike, or walk by. It's beautiful as it sits out in the rain alone across the street from Pioneer Cemetary, across the street from Central Catholic High school, next to the apartment complex where people came out to help the night of the accident. As the blur of movement of life goes on, this bike calmly calls out to me a story about life and death.

Ghost bikes are a tradition that deserve much respect and that play a part in the progress of making our roads safer for every living mover and shaker on our streets. 

Check out this film project I stumbled upon.

1 comment:

  1. I wanted to reach out to the bicycle community and let them know about a kickstarter that I am launching to fund a month long road trip to finish the shooting for my ghost bike project. Hopefully, you forward and repost this link and maybe even become a backer (every dollar helps). I greatly appreciate you taking the time to look at this link and pass it along.

    Check out the project here:

    Thank you!!