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Ricky Andrews died from gunshot while bicycling on Williams Ave in 2007

Posted by on November 18th, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Ricky Andrews

Ricky Janell Andrews was shot while riding his bike on N. Williams Avenue near Beech Street on November 18th, 2007; exactly four years ago today. According to news reports at the time, he died at the hospital later that night. Mr. Andrews was 48 years old.

There were six other fatalities involving people on bikes that year and all of them were covered here on BikePortland; but somehow I never even heard of Andrews’ death until last week.

Was that because he was black?

I heard about this incident for the first time at the “Race Talks” event last Tuesday while listening to a presentation by local historian Tom Robinson. Robinson shared with the crowd that he was aware of just a couple other bicycle fatalities in that general area — and that they each had a ghost bike. Then he came to the incident on Williams Ave…

Here’s an excerpt from Robinson’s talk:

“Fire crews who responded found a man and his cycle on Williams Avenue, and the cause of death was a gunshot wound. He was black. He has no ghost bike.”

Robinson was trying to make the point that Andrews was not remembered by the community in the same way as other bike-related fatalities solely because he was black. He then tied that idea to the City’s ongoing transportation project in the area:

“So, you can see how people who live in the Williams Avenue District can have a spectrum of opinion on matters of public safety. You can perhaps understand why another bicycle lane isn’t exactly what they were hoping for in the way of public safety programs.”

I follow the bike beat closely and I couldn’t recall ever hearing about Andrews. Beyond the color of his skin, it’s interesting to me that the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation didn’t officially record this as a bike fatality. According to PBOT stats, there were six bicycle-related fatalities in 2007: Nick Bucher, Jerry Hinatsu, Daniel Hunt, Curtis Lee Web, Tracey Sparling, and Brett Jarolimek.

How PBOT decides whether or not a fatal traffic incident should be labeled bike-related or not is something I’m looking into (and will post a follow-up if necessary).

Back to Robinson’s point about race; I’m not sure whether or not it plays a role in how the community responded (or didn’t). I can guarantee that had I heard about this at the time, I would have definitely mentioned it. That being said, I think it’s worth noting that it’s common that not all bike fatalities get a ghost bike. Ghost bikes are a very grassroots phenomenon. They happen somewhat randomly by individuals who feel compelled to install them.

The community’s response to traffic tragedies is also random and unequal. It depends greatly on the factors and context surrounding the incident such as who the person is, what they were doing when the incident occurred, and so on.

But beyond all that, now that I’ve learned about Ricky Andrews, I felt that he needed to be remembered on BikePortland.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. 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

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dmc
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dmc

It makes a person wonder what is considered a bike related fatality. Would the same result have happened if he were at the exact same place, at the exact same time in using a different mode of transportation: Car, Bus, Walking, Roller Blading? Was the bicycle a factor?

If a bolt of lightening comes out of the sky while you are riding your bike and strikes you dead, is that considered a bicycle related fatality?

I’m ignorant, someone enlighten me.

Esther
Guest
Esther

Great article Jonathan. I really appreciate your thoughtful look into this and your memorial for Mr. Andrews. If I recall correctly, you had similar questions about whether Kipp Crawford’s death on N. Willamette should be considered a bicycle-related fatality since he was already off the bicycle due to a previous crime, at the time of his death. Certainly the question of when and how tragedies should motivate response by activist communities focussed on a single “issue” is an important and nuanced one. You did still cover Mr. Crawford’s death so it’s fitting that you cover Mr. Andrews as well.

I think that unfortunately, must gun-related violence in N and NE Portland is filed away in the huge “gang related violence” category by the media and ignored, even as outreach and prevention funding is being cut. But especially when the victims are Black people (yet the media seems happy to make note of it when the perpetrator of a crime is Black). It is an issue bigger than bikeportland-IIRC Daniel Callaway’s death the same day, which was equally random and tragic, was covered MUCH more by the Oregonian over following weeks than Mr. Andrew’s or his sister’s deaths.

Carl
Guest
Carl

I don’t believe that Curtis Lee Webb or Daniel Hunt were memorialized with ghost bikes, either. Like Ricky Andrews, neither was killed in a motor vehicle-related crash (Webb hit a pole and Hunt hit another person on a bike). Generally, ghost bikes only mark where people on bikes were killed in motor vehicle-related crashes. I’m merely stating facts here, not saying that this pattern is right or wrong.

Marcus Griffith
Guest
Marcus Griffith

I would encourage the 2007 article to be updated to reflect that seven, not six, people died in Portland in a manner related to bicycle use. As you noted in 2007, two of those other six did not involve a motor vehicle (one involved a telephone pole).

sorebore
Guest
sorebore

Jonathan, It is very respectful of you to address this, and I commend you for doing so. In light of all the heated ramblings around Race Talks and N. Williams of late,I think it shows that you are always trying to put your best up front. And I am in full agreement with Ester, that the media is skewed along these lines to suit perception. That may never change. I think you have taken a lot of heat in some ways lately that is unfair, and this is one example of how your critics will see that you are not operating in that light.

jim
Guest
jim

I think it wasn’t bike related because it was more gun related, it can’t be all things.
As far as the ghost bikes go- I think they look terribly tacky. I wouldn’t want such an ugly thing placed where I was killed. Better to have a premium chunk of granite installed at the cemetery which is where people generally go to remember someone

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

Or it might have had something to do with the fact that his sister was also shot to death the same week and that they both had lengthy drug related criminal records. I for one thought at the time that he and his sister were probably both killed because they were caught up in a drug deal gone bad, not because he was on a bicycle. If Robinson has the slightest evidence that the man was shot as part of some sort of road rage incident please bring it forward, otherwise a ghost bike is not appropriate in this case, and it isn’t because of the color of his skin.

Sonia Connolly
Guest

My belated sympathies to Ricky Andrews’ family for your losses. Jonathan, thank you for addressing this.

Jennifer Buntz
Guest

Here in NM the death would not show up as a bicycle fatality because he was killed by a gunshot. Its sad thing though. If it were here and someone requested a ghost bike, I’m sure we would put one up. If there was not a request, we probably wouldn’t, but there are many differences between our efforts and the efforts of your Portland group. Our thoughts are with survivors of all the bicycle related (or unrelated) deaths in Portland.

eric
Guest
eric

living in atlanta i was constantly threatened with guns for being on a bike. me being white would usually be called out in these confrontations. although my black cyclist friends would get threats also. somehow this story doesn’t ring as a “bike” issue in the same way when a homeless guy on a bike gets hit i don’t see that as a “cyclist.” that being said, it does bring up some issues, concerns, whatever. if i or any of my “cyclist” friends were to get shot while riding i would definitely want the bike aspect of it investigated.

Joe Rowe
Guest
Joe Rowe

That was a horrible year for bikes. I’m somewhat certain that Jonathan would have reported it if he or any readers had known about it.

I think he deserves a Ghost Bike as much as anyone.

Hugh Johnson
Guest
Hugh Johnson

If he were white it would have been on the news for a week, the mayor would have given a press conference, and BikePortland posters would have been screaming how we are the victims of hate and someone needs to do something about it.

Raise_card
Guest
Raise_card

What actually killed him, the bullet or the (assumed) impact with the ground after he was shot? I assume most ghost bikes are the result of deaths by initial impact with motorized vehicles. I’m certain there have been ghost bikes for black people.

jim
Guest
jim

I am surprised that Jonathan didn’t hear about the accident at the time. He is usually well informed about such things happening in our area. It’s not his fault he didn’t know. I know he didn’t ignore it because he is black, Jonathan is not like that.

Charley
Guest
Charley

Assuming he died of the gunshot wound (reasonable assumption to me), I wouldn’t refer to this as a bike accident or crash, or even a bike fatality. If a pedestrian was shot would that be a pedestrian fatality? It would be like calling it a “human murder.”
If someone walking down the sidewalk is shot, that’s not the fault of bad traffic design, and there’s no infrastructural solution to make the sidewalk safer for them. This has everything to do with drugs or a culture of violence in this neighborhood, and nothing to do with a person’s choice to ride a bike around town.
* * *
So. . . I’m guessing Jonathan didn’t hear about it because it’s not relevant to his mission of running a bike blog. No fault there. No racism, either.

Charley
Guest
Charley

Also, if Mr. Robinson feels like Mr Andrews deserves a ghostbike, he should ask his family what they think. If they are interested, maybe Mr. Robinson can take up the project himself. Otherwise, as a guy who rides his bike all over the neighborhood, I’m not seeing this as equivalent to the Sparling or Jarolimek situation. It doesn’t appear that this is the kind of event for which a bike themed memorial would be appropriate. The lack of a ghost bike in this case is not reflecting racism, but reflecting the fact that the bike was itself incidental to the fact of Mr. Andrews’ murder. The ghost bikes are for people killed by traffic, right?

Andrew Seger
Guest
Andrew Seger

This was one of the many BS things about the “race talks” event. If a man gets shot it is with a “deadly weapon”. If it had been an SUV it would have been an “unfortunate accident.” Some members of the african american community are using this as an excuse to do nothing along Williams. The churches are especially to blame. All they care about is their parking so their members can drive in from Vancouver on sundays. Just recall the vehemence that any sort of plate count study has provoked when proposed.

Jack
Guest
Jack

It seems like a majority of racism these days is perceived rather than intended. This is extremely unfortunate. As of 1954 (primarily) our legal system leveled the playing field. Inequality persists because we (everyone) won’t put it behind us. Children are born ‘color-blind’ and would remain that way if we didn’t push racism on them.

If anyone can round up a person or persons who decided to not put up a ghost bike for Mr. Andrews specifically because he was black, then we should deal with that person or persons. Until then, how can we attribute fault to anyone here?

Esther
Guest
Esther

“the majority of racism is perceived,” “the legal system lev#led the playing field.” Our playing fiels is NOT levelled and racism “is not just perceived, it is actual, systemic AND quite often “intended.”

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Guest

Just want to remind folks how critically important it is for us to be mindful of other people’s perspectives when discussing race. I am watching these comments closely and I am relying on you (readers) to contact me if you read something that is inappropriate or offensive.

Thank you.

maxadders
Guest
maxadders

He wasn’t killed by a car and shouldn’t be listed as a bicycling fatality. I know you likely won’t agree with this, but a better spot for this man would be on a list of victims of gun violence. Ghost bikes were intended to make people aware of bike accidents, not murders committed with firearms. I’ve heard nothing to suggest he was killed for riding a bike; not sure why we need to be up in arms over the fact that he wasn’t on a list of people killed in bike-vs-auto accidents. There’s plenty of racism in the world but I’m not sure there’s much in play here.

MIke
Guest
MIke

First occupy portland and now shooting victims? How I long for the days when people debated on the brightness of their lights. The holidays are coming up so can we shift to something a little more light hearted?

Chrehn
Guest
Chrehn

A thought provoking article. Thank you.

jim
Guest
jim

This wasn’t really a bike related thing, it’s not like he got right hooked or anything. It was a murder. You didn’t mention that his sister was shot and killed the same day in a separate incident.
I still stand by my belief that the ghost bikes are tacky in any case, and I don’t think everybody wants them in our streets. A crashed burned out car serves as a strong reminder not to drink and drive, however they remove those from the street as soon as possible. There was a body shop that had one on display for that reason, and i think the police may have one they take around to high schools, no permanent monuments in front of someones house though. Who started these by the way? Who did they consult with? Was it their decision to do this no matter what everyone else thinks? What type of system is that? I could see a memorial at roadside for a week or 2, then it should come down.

KRhea
Guest
KRhea

I’m a black male, 53yrs old, born in a very tiny town in Ohio, have lived from the east coast to the “best” coast, traveled around the globe, been hated, loved, spat upon, had guns pointed at me, called names, not allowed to eat in certain restaurants or walk on certain sides of the street. I’ve also been treated with as much disrespect from blacks because they didn’t think I was “black enough”. Back in the day I was probably called “Uncle Tom” by blacks as many time as I was called “nigger” by whites. There is no race without fault when it comes to being racist and or having to deal with racism.
I became what I consider a serious cyclist in the fall of 1974 when I rode my first century(100miler) in Findlay Ohio. I’ve been riding ever since.
Two weeks ago I was told by a man in his early to mid ’40s that I “didn’t belong” in his neighborhood…this after he had ran a stop sign, cut a corner and nearly took my life with his large SUV as I rode my bike down SW Montgomery. Little did this man know, until I told him, that I had just purchased a new home about 10 houses up the street from him so I certainly did, “belong there”.
Last month while riding on Sauvie Island I was called a “stupid colored guy” by an impatient driver who wouldn’t pass me even though I was riding the fog line and he had plenty of room to do so.
I only tell these things to bring to light the reality of where our world is, today, 2011. This isn’t about “looking for trouble” on my part. It’s about being a cyclist, riding my bike and being “called out” because of my color. I guess to still be dealing with this stuff in 2011 is pitiful in my opinion. My dad rode in the back of the bus while wearing a US Army uniform, drank from different fountains and was beat-up for being black…all while wearing a US Army uniform, just because of the color of his skin. This was before I was born…and still, today, I’m/we’re still dealing with similar attitudes…wow. No, I’m not naive, I realize racism in all forms is here to stay and that my 8yr old Chinese daughter will deal with some of the same things both her grandfather and her father have dealt with but it still mystifies me every time it happens.
I admire JM for researching this unfortunate incident and then bringing it back into our consciousness for discussion. I was in attendance at the “Race Talks” session where this ghost bike issue was brought to light. It hit me as strange as I listened and I’ve thought about it a number of times since. The presenter that night, a white gentleman, told the story in a way that immediately brought up the “race card”. To be honest I didn’t appreciate that fact at all, it was just way to one sided for me. I’m glad to read all the opinions offered in this thread.
Question, had I been hit by the SUV in my neighborhood would it have been a racist act or an accident? My opinion, 100% accident, however, it was waaaaaay to easy for this man to hit me with, “you don’t belong here anyway”, after I survived the incident.
In Mr. Andrews case, I don’t believe the color of his skin had anything to do with having or not having a ghost bike placed in his rememberance. His color may or may not of had something to do with his being shot and that’s bad enough. One fact I’ve yet to hear in this case is: who did the shooting, was the shooter white or black? Seems to me that would immediately add a different spin to the story and yet, he still would be a victim of gun violence, not a car/bike fatality. As someone stated, he was a victim of gun violence not a victim of “riding his bike”.
To both “Maxadders” and “Sorebore”, thank you so much for your insightful and well written posts. It’s clear from what you said and the way you said it that both of you have a great understanding of what is and what isn’t racism.
This quote from Sorebore says it all for me:
“It is with this hope that I attempt to raise my child to view people as individuals, and hopefully there are those who will raise their children with the same ideals.”
Amen my soul brotha from a different mutha!

To everyone else, race is always a difficult and at times volatile subject to discuss. I appreciate that so far in this thread there have been all sorts of opinions, some I agree with, some I don’t but thanks to everyone for keeping the “tone” of the discussion intelligent and pretty open minded. It’s discussions like these that can and do sometimes make a difference in how you or me or “we” see things, respond to things and then move forward in our thought process and our personal growth.

KRhea

Zed
Guest
Zed

sorebore
The ghost bike for the young woman killed downtown in front of The Crystal Ballroom has completely disappeared.

It didn’t disappear, it was relocated:
http://bikeportland.org/2010/04/08/church-will-give-tracey-sparlings-ghost-bike-a-permanent-home-31661

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

Robinson is using the race card to get sympathy for his cause… that doesn’t work on smart people…

we may never know if the bike was motivation for the shooting, thus making it a bicycle-related crime… or if somebody just really wanted him dead and he just happened to be on a bicycle at the time…

John Landolfe
Guest

As I’ve noted to the Williams transportation planners, I’ve lived on Williams and elsewhere with non-white bicyclists. I think unequal media coverage is at the root of the community reaction, not some entrenched racism in the neighborhood itself. It makes sense he wouldn’t appear as a transportation-related fatality because he wasn’t killed by a transportation-related event.

I do think, however, that media outlets whose mission is to cover more than just transportation are really dropping the ball in North Portland. Just look at the difference in attention by police and the media of Occupy Portland versus half a dozen shootings in my neighborhood during the same period. Though I don’t think it should stall transportation safety issues, the Williams residents who say people are ignoring other neighborhood safety issues have made their point.

Reid Parham
Guest
Reid Parham

.

Doug Morgan
Guest
Doug Morgan

I saw a person riding a bike cradling a rather large dog in their lap. He was riding with no hands, smoking a cigarette, riding against traffic on a major 4 lane arterial. As a cyclist do I have to defend every lunatic that shows up on a bicycle? No, I do not and certainly will not.

I do not understand, nor do I approve of or condone in anyway, roadside memorials. I think they amount to little more than well intentioned roadside junkpiles. At least ghost bikes have a message. The appropriate place for memorials has always been cemetaries. I doubt I personally will have any memorial. These memorials are just attempts to not forget friends and loved ones, but they are in vane. We will all die, 100 years from now nobody will even care we were here, except to mine our garbage dumps.

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.

Skid
Guest
Skid

Usually ghost bikes are put up by friends or family of the victim aren’t they? It’s not like there’s some committee or anyone in charge of ghost bike memorials. Sorry, no racism here, except for bike riding and ghost bikes being seen as something the only white people do.

eric
Guest
eric

the more this thread goes on the more i realize NO. no ghost bike. not a bike related crime. it was a gun related crime. and his sister was killed not long before. (my condolenses to the family). some on this thread say it wasn’t related but that’s ridiculous. things like that don’t randomly happen. the fact that it wasn’t reported or whatever probably wasn’t so much race related as it was socially economically related. or maybe even played down in the media for police investigation purposes. the longer this thread goes on, the more embarrassed i am to be white….and a cyclist. IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT US. bikers or white people.