Wednesday, July 30, 2008
A Ghost Bike has been placed at the site of the fatal bicycle crash here in Eugene that killed David Minor. The bike is surrounded by flowers and hung with photos and messages. The ghost bike program draws attention to the place where a fatal car-bike collision has occurred, thus hopefully keeping it in the consciousness of the drivers and cyclists who move past that spot on a daily basis. They also remind us of the humans whose lives ended on that particular spot, that they were more than just a blurb in the daily newspaper, but a person with a life and history, friends and family.
When I saw my first ghost bikes, outside of Forest Grove, Oregon where I had gone for a triathlon, I had no idea what they were. I pulled over and read the signs, discovering that in that particular location in May of 2006 Darrel and Sheryl McDaniel, a retired couple from Hillsboro, were killed when a motorist drifted onto the shoulder of the road and struck them. If I never have to see another new Ghost Bike, it would be a good thing. As more and more cyclists take to the roads (I recently read that it's approaching a 100% increase in cyclists nationwide), we can only hope that there will be an increase in safety as well. I have talked to more people recently who started riding their bikes again, and I think that can only increase their awareness of bikes on the roads when they themselves are riding. On the other hand, I've also been hearing around the bicycling grapevine that aggression from motorists towards cyclists is up, possibly because of the large numbers of cycling newcomers and possibly because of general frustration and tension from high gas prices. Probably us cyclists will experience a little of both - increased awareness and increased tensions, so more than ever I am alert when I'm out there biking somewhere.