Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ghost Bikes

I can't believe, considering the "Ghosts of Chicago" theme of this class, that I didn't think of mentioning Ghost Bikes in class, or doing my project on them or something. But better late than never.

Ghost Bikes are not unique to Chicago, but the Chicago ones are the only ones I am familiar with. Ghost Bikes are bikes painted white, and locked up at the location, usually an intersection, where a bicyclist was killed while riding. The first Ghost Bike of Chicago is at the intersection of Western Ave and Augusta. I happen to ride past this intersection everyday, and on my way home last night I suddenly realized I had to share them with you guys!

The Ghost Bike on Western and August is in memory of Isai Medina. All the Ghost Bikes have a white plaque with the name of the biker killed, their birth and death date and often a very short quote. In a way it's like a grave stone.

There is one Ghost Bike, on Division Street on the North Side of the street under the viaduct, just before one turns right onto 90/94 West. Although all the Ghost Bikes produce a feeling of sadness in me, this one in particular gets to me. For one, it is scary when you go past one, and you can really understand why a biker was killed in the area. At this particular place, there is barely room for two lanes of traffic, let alone adding a bicycle to the mix. The other reason, is that this young woman died on her birthday, and her plaque reads: "She heard everyday sounds as music." It never fails to give me chills and bring tears to my eyes.

Ghost Bikes serve as a memorial to the bikers who were killed on their bikes, but hopefully the also serve as a reminder to those that pass, to slow down, watch out for each other, cars, bicycles, motorcycles, walkers, everyone and everything, and to remember getting somewhere faster is never worth a life.

I am attaching a link to the Chicago Ghost Bike page. You can click on Isai Medina's name and then navigate between pictures and bios of a lot of the Ghost Bikes of Chicago.

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