As many readers have already noticed, the ghost bike for Brett Jarolimek at N. Interstate and Greeley has gone missing — again.
Back in February, a confused thief took the bike, only to return it soon after with an apologetic note.
This time, the bike has been stashed along the side of the N Greeley Avenue about a mile away and the mementos at the site have been strewn about in bushes nearby.
After receiving several emails about this in last few days, I stopped by the site yesterday. I gathered what I could of the mementos (a bunch of peacock feathers, a laminated photograph of Brett and his friends, a bike pump, a water bottle) from the bushes, attached a bouquet of silk flowers to the pole where the bike used to be, and cleaned up the area a bit.
I didn’t move the bike, because I didn’t realize where exactly it was until a few minutes ago. I assume it’s still leaning against the retaining wall like in the photo at right (taken on Saturday 4/12).
This situation renewed my interest in a short conversation I had with ODOT’s Jason Tell a few weeks ago — and then followed-up on with a longer conversation at his Portland office on Wednesday. Mr. Tell is the regional manager for ODOT and he has expressed a desire to hear what the community thinks about how/if we should consider a more permanent memorial to Brett — in addition to possibly creating a more generic bike mural/memorial at a separate location.
Back in December, ODOT crews painted over a stencil of Brett on the underpass adjacent to where the collision occurred. I believe they were sincerely conflicted in making that decision, and I understand why they had to do it.
Now, Mr. Tell is willing to consider the possibility of a new painting, that would have some sort of official sanction from ODOT and perhaps the City of Portland.
His first idea was to create a mural at a different location, one that would give the community more space to gather and appreciate the mural away from a busy intersection. As he envisions it, the mural would become not just a piece of public art for the community, but could also serve as a meeting place — a place to gather and to grieve together when/if necessary, a place to meet for rides, and a place to celebrate bikes in general.
Mr. Tell said he started thinking about a permanent memorial after he watched the memorial sign bill fail in Salem twice in the past two years.
During our discussion, I shared with Mr. Tell my enthusiasm for his bike mural idea, but I also said we can’t forget about also creating something permanent at the Interstate-Greeley intersection. He understood my thoughts about the significance of that intersection to the community and he plans to work on how to make a permanent memorial at that location possible.
As for a larger, more general mural, he says there are several possible locations under consideration. One of the top choices so far is the wall of the Failing Street bike/ped bridge across I-5 in North Portland.
is a possible site for a future bike mural.
(Photo © J. Maus)
I’m personally conflicted about memorials. On one hand I realize the need to never forget those we’ve lost and to never forget that we must stay vigilant — not just on the road as we ride, but in our work to make those roads safer.
However, I also don’t want to send the wrong message to the broader community. There’s already enough misplaced fear about the perceived dangers of biking and I feel too much focus on memorials (like the Ride of Silence for example) can sometimes have a negative overall impact on pushing our goals forward.
What do you think?
- Do we need to memorialize those who have lost their lives while riding a bike?
Should we work to get a bike mural in addition to a permanent memorial at Interstate and Greeley?
If so, where should that mural be?
And, if a permanent mural was created, should it focus on fallen cyclists or have a more general message?
Please share your thoughts, and remember this conversation is just beginning (no decisions and no promises have been made yet)…
*There is a benefit event for the Brett Jarolimek Memorial Fund on May 1st. Go here for more details.