Hundreds of Portlanders came together tonight to ride (and walk) in memory of Tracey Sparling and the tragic collision that took her life less than 36 hours ago.
We gathered at the west end of the Burnside Bridge. Before making our way up Burnside to SW 14th, ride organizer Carl Larson mounted a pedicab and said, “I just felt this was something that had to be done.”
Scott Bricker of the BTA also addressed the crowd. Holding his 1 year-old daughter, he pointed out that statistically, motor vehicle-related crashes pose the largest risk to “taking her away” from he and his wife.
With the chiming of bike bells, we set out as a group up Burnside. The procession — which filled more than a city block — remained quiet, except for our bells and the occasional car honk.
I noticed little, if any anger coming from motorists
(we slowed their evening commute by a few minutes). The amount of riders was much more than we expected and ended up taking the entire lane on Burnside; backing up car traffic behind us and holding-up (a.k.a. “corking”) cross-traffic at several intersections so the group could stay together.
I’m disappointed that the Oregonian decided to write the headline, “Mourners, drivers clash during vigil to mourn cyclist run over by cement truck”. Did anyone else on the ride notice this “clash”?
We decided to ride up SW 14th, which meant we rolled up on the intersection with Burnside just like Tracey did on Thursday afternoon.
The crowd gathered in silence around the Ghost Bike. People began placing candles, notes, pictures of Tracey, and flowers around the bike.
We expected to offer folks the opportunity to talk, but somehow, at this point, words didn’t seem to be needed. We all just stood in silence; our thoughts accompanied by the cacophony of rush-hour traffic, sobs, and sniffles.
Tonight we mourned not just Tracey, but the circumstances that led to her death. I won’t accept that this was “just an accident”, and I don’t think I’m alone. There is much more to this tragedy that needs to (and will) be addressed.
Thanks to Carl and Tiago for making this happen so quickly and to everyone who showed up on such short notice.
Here’s my slideshow: