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Ghost bike effort picks up steam

Posted by on September 22nd, 2005 at 8:56 am

Ghost Bike - MLK & Wygant

The local “Ghost Bike” effort is coming together. Several people in the bike community have been working hard to create the memorials and place them at the sites of fallen cyclists.

The Portland Observer was first to report the Ghost Bike for Chris Burris, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver on Sept. 3rd. The Willamette Week has already also noticed the latest installation on MLK and Wygant which was erected by the brother of the victim. The Oregonian also had something to say in today’s paper. Joseph Rose, who wrote the article in the O was inspired to write the story after he and his 11-year-old daughter were nearly hit by a car on their bike ride to school.

There is also talk of reviving the website which is currently offline. Local volunteers are talking with the site’s owners about how to get the it running again and possibly have it become a national Ghost Bike portal site, with links to each city’s effort and general information about the movement.

I love the Ghost Bike idea, but I wonder what other people in the community think about them. I’m curious if anyone will have a negative reaction to these installations and what the response will be from the larger community once more of them are put up.

What do you think about Ghost Bikes? Are they effective, pointless, vandalism, art?

[Here are several more photos of the ghost bike on MLK & Wygant]

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • David September 22, 2005 at 9:45 am

    This is a great way to raise awareness about bike safety! Keep it up!

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  • eliot September 22, 2005 at 12:51 pm

    i’m part of a group that creates ghost bikes in new york city. we’d love to be involved in a revival of to keep track of national efforts. get in touch at visual.resistance[at]


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  • eliot September 22, 2005 at 12:58 pm

    p.s. — in response to your questions at the end, at least in new york, the reception has been exclusively positive. none of our installations have been removed by police or property owners. several are constantly decorated with flowers, months later. friends and family members of the bikers we’re memorializing have been thankful, as well.

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  • Jonathan Maus September 22, 2005 at 8:58 pm


    Great to hear from you and I’m sure the local contingent will be getting in touch with you. It’s good to hear that response in NYC has been so positive.

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  • nick September 23, 2005 at 9:37 pm

    I think, overall, it is a good idea.

    If I remember correctly, the folks that were doing this in Seattle did it completely anonymously, so as to not shift the attention from the victim to themselves. With that in mind, I think the placard is somewhat dumb. It explains who died and when and that is great, I guess. But listing a website and safety suggestions…well, I am not really complaining since it is great that they did this…but if were to make a memorial it would just be the white bike and nothing else.

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  • Jonathan Maus September 25, 2005 at 6:15 pm

    Hey Nick,

    I hear where you’re coming from, but I don’t think it’s cool to call it “dumb”…especially because it was put up by the victim’s brother. Maybe not the best choice of words?

    I encourage you to get involved and make the memorials however you’d like. If you want to join with some folks that are already working on this, let me know and I can hook you up.

    Thanks for commenting.

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  • […] Eight cyclists showed up Wedsnesday night for a second round of Ghost Bike installs. Three more bikes were put up which brings the total to nine since the memorial for Chris Burris went up on MLK and Wygant in early September. I’ve got photos of them here. […]

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  • steve December 6, 2005 at 7:06 am

    I work with ghostcycle london… A ghost cycle portal is an excellent idea, and we are presently working on extending the backend so that the site is easy to update, and makes national contributions really easy… if you need the source code[php]for a site get intouch. So far we have only had an extremely positive response. Best of luck with your projects.

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  • AMG December 31, 2005 at 3:54 pm

    I normally do not post to such things. However, I feel I must add to this. I drive around Portland a lot for my work, and I also have a personal connection to the death of Noah Cardamon last May at SE 50th & Stark. I have noticed the bikes and have seen them ALL.

    It’s a great idea, and makes a great statement. It makes a better statement to me, than the mass bicycle rides that really cause division between bikers and motorists–makes motorists mad who can’t drive while cyclists are clogging up the street. I have been stuck for a few hours in that traffic, and it makes me annoyed at the bikers, frankly and honestly. It’s hard to respect/recognize a cause like that when they are breaking the law–yet accusing motorists of breaking the law.

    The memorials are much more meaningful to me, and it does make me stop a minute and think about safety. PLUS–some of the intersections are so benign. Who would think someone would be killed at SE 50th & Stark? (Being a drunk driver counts as a hazard, but that’s beside the point.) It’s not a busy intersection, or has any hazards. Same with NE Fremont and 80th. It’s a reminder to always be careful.

    May I suggest?? Please put the person’s name on the card if possible. I think that makes it that much more personal. The ones I have had a chance to see up close don’t have the names of the victims.

    Keep up this kind of meaningful work that builds bridges and memorializes our friends, and doesn’t divide.


    PS Always remembering Noah.

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  • AMG December 31, 2005 at 4:02 pm

    I just looked at New York’s sight. What a wonderful memorial card to Liz Padilla. That is what I pictured in my above suggestion.

    Again, thank you. You are doing a great service to those of us on the road, and those departed. May they always be remembered.

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  • RW January 20, 2006 at 8:17 am

    I think it is sad and tragic that some bike riders are casualties. I am sad for their families.

    There is, however, plenty of bike awareness in Portland. Many times it may be the cyclist’s fault for an accident, due to not obeying traffic laws. I think there needs to be bike law awareness spread around the city. Most bikers are fine, and I applaud their efforts to reduce pollution and get healthy. Portland is a very bike friendly city. Many roads (maintained by tax dollars from car drivers) have bike lanes painted on them, and this system works well. What I do not understand though, is why some bike riders insist on riding on narrow, busy streets without these lanes? NE/SE 39th avenue is a perfect example. Not only are they putting themselves in harms way, they are clogging up traffic causing more pollution, meanwhile enraging motorists, which gives all bike riders a bad name. I would figure that it would be more enjoyable for the rider to use the residential street one block over. There would be less stress on all commuters, biker included. And most bikers DO ride one block over. I am sure their commute time is the same, and they have also enjoyed the beauty of a Portland neighborhood street. It is the militant sector of bikers that give 98% of the other rider’s bad names with their self-entitlement attitude. So, I say we should focus on promoting biker education along side of biker awareness. After all, why would you want all the drivers hate you? There’s no contest between a bike and a 2 ton car.

    I know you’re trying to go a good thing here. But putting these bikes all over town will make the city look shabby. It really is litter, on city property. I think you’re going to make more people mad, and it will cause more harm than good. Personally, if I were to see one of these out in front of my house, I would bring out my big bolt cutters I got at Harbor Freight for $20 and remove it promptly.

    I am a motorcyclist. I know what it is like to be riding a vehicle that seems to be invisible to cars. There are many motorcycle fatalities around the city. I wonder what people would think if I got a bunch of 1970’s Honda beater bikes and started chaining them up all around the city where fellow bikers have fallen?

    I just think it’s a bad idea, and one that will most likely hurt your cause rather than help it.

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  • sharma June 30, 2006 at 8:32 pm

    Just saw the Ghost Bike memorial on Belmont. I think it’s a great way to commemerate the loss of these cycleists and bring awareness. How can I help with this project?

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  • MJ July 2, 2006 at 10:06 pm

    Sharma, there is a low traffic mailing list you can join.

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  • Rev. Steve July 8, 2006 at 10:49 am

    Ghost Bikes are the best way to raise general awareness of bike safety that I’v seen. For Samhain (Halloween)/Day Of The Dead I’d like to see a memorial ride visiting these installations and leaving trinkets in remembrance of these fallen riders.

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  • ropy (Hungary) July 25, 2006 at 9:33 pm

    Ghost bike Budapest (Hungary)

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  • TCCardamon January 23, 2007 at 12:09 am

    AMG – a blog with photos of Noah posted by me, his Dad.

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  • Anonymous February 4, 2007 at 2:10 am

    a man i work with was hit by a car yesterday and killed. this happened about 24 hours ago, and he died 20 hours ago. I knew him for 10 weeks, yet I knew he was a good person, a good soul, and someone that we all hate to see go. Ghostbikes is a good idea…I think it will raise awareness of the reality of car and biker impact. Cars are BIG HEAVY OBJECTS. And will kill a human effortlessly with one strike. Nick. R.I.P. Helmets, Lights, BIG ASS FOG HORNS. Whatever it takes.

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  • Philly Bicycling News « Bad Luck City Blog January 10, 2008 at 8:36 am

    […] they’re at it, they might also want to try this thought-provoking tactic from Portland. Hey, that’s a great art idea for my buddy Stuart over at the Renegade Art […]

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  • RC February 12, 2008 at 8:33 am

    I personally think the Ghostbikes make a great statement and would probably raise awareness of cycleists a lot. But I can see RW\’s point also, to a degree. What I mean is I can see how it could get out of hand if not took care of, like keeping the bikes painted when they start to rust and look trashy and the signs start to fade.
    Texas, in my experience, is not biker friendly. Where I live in North Texas I have never ridden in nor have I even seen a bike lane! I am a part-time commuter biker. Part-time because my health doesn\’t allow it all the time or I\’d be full time. I\’ve ridden in benefit Tours and can see how 2,000 bikes could really get a motorist hacked-off at all bikers everywhere. So, it is easy to see where there needs to be a meeting of minds. Motorists need to be careful of cyclists and cyclists need to not feel entitled to take up a full lane of traffic while taking their time also. While we are on our bikes we need to also remember that an arguement betwixt a car and a bicycle can only end in one result. The car wins, but neither of the owners do. It is a knotty problem, legally we have a right to the same road an automobile does. Reality tells me that not only am I less visible to a motorist, I am much slower also and these things need to taken into account every time I straddle the saddle. Someday I hope every State will try to accomodate us as well as cars and trucks AND trains.
    Until then I think the Ghostbikes are a great idea. My problem is how do I discover where bicyclists have died in my area?

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  • miss February 12, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    I think they are a great reminder of the fallen and to be safe with driving and riding. It\’s sad to see them but I think they are an important installation.

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  • Potestio February 13, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    I think the ghost bike memorials are very moving, and greatly appreciate the efforts of those who create them. I think they are a very compelling way to remind motorists and cyclists that the roads must be shared spaces, regardless of whether a bike lane exists or what the applicable laws state. …I wish there were fewer.

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