Earlier this month, crews with the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) removed the white ghost bike with the cardboard sign attached to it that read, “Brett Jarolimek 1976 – 2007”.
The bike was placed up in the bushes and against a road sign near the intersection of N. Interstate and Greeley — the same intersection that claimed Jarolimek’s life on October 22, 2007.
ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton told me this morning that the bike was removed as per the agency’s policy. “State highways are not a bulletin board,” he said, “We have to make sure anything that goes under the side of one of our roads is safe and doesn’t cause distraction for road users.” (Interstate isn’t an ODOT-managed road, but the intersection is under an ODOT highway on-ramp.)
Hamilton added that ODOT is open to discussing more permanent memorials, but they’ve got to go through a more formal vetting process. On that note, it’s important to recall the history of this location.
Just a few months after Jarolimek’s death, a beautiful stencil painting of him appeared on a concrete wall just a few feet away from the collision. ODOT painted over the stencil, but not before struggling with the decision.
For their part, I’ve confirmed with ODOT’s Region 1 manager Jason Tell that they’re still interested and willing to allow a permanent memorial. I’ll keep you posted on any developments.