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Bike blessing and memorial dedication: Photos and report

Posted by on April 13th, 2010 at 8:16 pm

Portland resident Stephanie Noll gets her bike blessed.
Photo Gallery/Slideshow below-
(Photos © J. Maus)

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Tracey Sparling’s ghost bike.

Here are the words printed on a memorial plaque adjacent to Tracey Sparling’s ghost bike that was dedicated into the Portland Bicycle Shrine in downtown Portland this afternoon:

This bicycle reminded all who passed it on Burnside and 14th that a beautiful young woman’s life was cut short while riding her bicycle. We dedicate this bike to Tracey, and all other fallen riders who are loved and terribly missed by so many.

About 50 people, including Mayor Sam Adams and the family of Tracey Sparling, attended a service at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church tonight to dedicate a memorial plaque in honor of the woman who was killed in October 2007 while riding her bike on NW 14th Avenue — just a few blocks from the church.

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The bike of Amos Hunter
receives a blessing.

The crowd heard short speeches from Mayor Sam Adams, Pacific Northwest College of Art president Thomas Manly (where Sparling went to school), and Bike Temple founder Amos Hunter. Manly said PNCA is moving forward with plans to construct a covered bike parking oasis on their campus in Sparling’s honor.

Following the speeches, Reverends Dennis Parker and Ken Arnold blessed the bicycles with a prayer and by placing a few drops of bike lube on their chains. The service ended with the ringing of bike bells.

St. Stephen’s also unveiled a new sign and logo for their Portland Bicycle Shrine. Senior Warden Mic Fleming explained to me that the logo incorporates several important symbols: the Compass Rose, which is both a symbol of the Anglican Communion and a way to pay homage to Portland’s official flower; the Lotus, associated with “life and promise”; and the mandala. Cards imprinted with the logo and a prayer for cyclists are available at the shrine.

New Portland Bicycle Shrine sign and logo.

The Portland Bicycle Shrine is located in a niche to one side of the church. It consists of a painting, a shelf with flowers, Tracey Sparling’s ghost bike and a new plaque in her honor. Reverend Parker said anyone is welcome to leave a note or a plaque for one of their loved ones. The bicycle shrine is open whenever the church is open and everyone is welcome to visit.

Watch a slideshow of the event below:

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  • April April 13, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    Tracey Sparling’s death really rattled me when it happens, and still affects me, more than other cyclist deaths.

    When it happened, I’d only been riding a bicycle as my primary transportation for less than a year, and I’d never heard of a right hook. It had never even occurred to me to look out for them. And so every time I thought of her, all I could think was “That could have just as easily been me.”

    My sympathy to the Sparling family.

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  • Hart April 14, 2010 at 2:49 am

    While I’m sure we all appreciate the sentiment, if everyone made a martyr out of me if I was killed in an cycling accident, my ghost would find it rather contrived and annoying.

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  • Spokesy April 14, 2010 at 8:04 am

    Hart; the shrine isn’t an altar to Ms. Sparling specifically. It’s to the safety of cyclists and in memory of our lost and fallen friends. Her ghost bike was donated by the family and while there’s not a whole lot of room for more bike parking in the shrine, any and everyone is welcome to leave a memento or donate a plaque dedicated to a lost love one. (Let’s just hope that not much more will need to be added!)

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  • Hart April 14, 2010 at 11:44 am


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  • Quentin April 14, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    That picture of the two pastors blessing the bike is hilarious. A few drops of lube doesn’t sound like enough. They could at least lube the entire chain, that way it wouldn’t be a complete waste of time indulging in superstitious wishful thinking.

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  • Wyeast April 14, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    Quentin – While I have not practiced any organized religion for over 30 years, I would not call a blessing “superstitious wishful thinking”. For me a blessing is at least heartfelt support. I do believe there is devine in each of us. To have another person bless me or my bike or my fishing boat before it goes out to sea, is more than “superstitious wishful thinking”.

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  • Hart April 15, 2010 at 1:20 am

    It’s great to remember loved ones who have died, and it’s even better to wish for the safety of those still alive, but this just feels like irrelevant theology struggling to reach a new audience.

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  • Amos April 15, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    Hart, Quentin: So what if you’re right? Who cares? It is appreciated by the people who appreciate it and it harms nobody. Somehow you have enough of a problem with that to broadcast it? Wrong news site.

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