Thursday, March 13, 2014

Meg's bike

So, a comment on this blog, on March 9, said, about Meg's ghost bike at Bank and Riverside:

its still up..... its the most obnoxious and long standing memorial I have ever scene. I pass by it everyday and am utterly irritated that its been almost a year and its still there as if it was mother Theresa that died.

Hey, Anonymous (brave choice of ID, that): Cordially - wait, no, not cordially, not at all - fuck you. You have a problem with having to pass Meg's ghost bike? Does it bring you down? Oh, I'm so terribly sorry for you.

Meg's bike has been decorated since she was killed last July (incidentally, that was less than eight months ago). And it's not like the decorations are causing any problems to anyone: unless, of course, you find being reminded of the existence of cyclists to be a problem. And as a bike rider who goes by that intersection a few times a week, the tributes and the care lavished on her memorial have touched and encouraged me. In the fall, it was decorated with pumpkins and bats and ghosties and orange-and-black streamers. At Christmas it was decorated with pine and holly and ribbons. Last week, I took a picture of the bike festooned with Irish flags and green crepe paper for Saint Patrick's Day. Someone is going to that intersection and showing that the woman who was killed there is still a part of their lives. They're including her in their seasonal celebrations: “Hey, it's Winterlude, let's go put an ice inukshuk at Meg's bike.” Why, in all the worlds, would you have a problem with that?

That ghost bike reminds me, every time I pass it (on my bike, or in my car), that someone's deeply beloved sister, daughter, friend, and aunt was killed at that intersection. As a sister, daughter, friend, and aunt myself, I can only hope that if the unthinkable were to happen, the least that could come of it would be that the spot where it happened might be turned into a reminder, to cyclists and drivers alike, to look out for each other. No one should have to take their lives into their hands to get home from work. Not in a car, not on a bike, not on a bus or a subway.

I'm absolutely glad Meg's memorial is still standing. I'm glad that her family and friends look after her ghost bike the way they do. If you're irritated by it, maybe you need to think about why you are. What possible reason could you come up with to be angry with people for loving and remembering someone who's gone? If you've got a real corker of a reason, let me know. Otherwise, I'm just going to assume that you're made uncomfortable by the very presence of cyclists who - God forbid - feel they should be able to get around town without running the risk of dying.

Yes, we (as a group) remember our dead. Even the ones we were never lucky enough to know personally. That's because every day, when we get on our bikes, we feel like we're under threat. We're cut off, we're honked at, we're sped past, we're yelled at, and we're startled and scared on a regular basis, even though we keep telling ourselves we know the rules and we should be okay, because we read the comments (though we shouldn't) and we feel like if we got run down by a cement truck, like Meg was, there would be a frightening number of assholes like you who would say, “Come on, take the memorial down already, it's not like they were someone important.”

Also, ghost bikes are way better at signalling a dangerous stretch of road than any municipal sign: and, sadly, they're more common. Every time I pass Meg's bike, in my mind, I'm passing Meg: I didn't know her, but I know she rode a bike, and she was a daughter and a sister and a friend and an aunt, and I promise her – and the people that love me – that I will be careful.


  1. Has anyone ever asked why bikers don't walk their bikes across busy intersections, especially this one which is difficult for drivers to see bicyclists?
    I pass by this memorial EVERY day and it is sad that bikers aren't more careful in spite of this vivid reminder. Some cyclists just barrel down that intersection like they own the road, and I feel fear for them as the drivers who are climbing the slight "hill" looking down bank street to turn right from Riverside going north on Bank, and all of a sudden a bike turns up beside them.
    I really hope that a sign could be considered for bikers to walk across street instead of cycling across this intersection in danger of another one getting hit. I am afraid it's a matter of time before this happens again.