Ghost walker appears where man was hit crossing North Greeley

Posted by on September 29th, 2016 at 12:08 pm

A marking on southbound North Greeley at Bryant to commemorate the death of Stanley Grochowski.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

People who live in the neighborhood where Stanley Grochowski was hit (and later died) on August 30th have placed a white marking on the pavement in the shape of a human. Similar to a ghost bike, this is a ghost walker.

Someone (we haven’t confirmed who exactly) has also posted what they say is Grochowski’s artwork on a nearby telephone pole — after it was found scattered in the street. The person who drove their car into Grochowski as he pushed his shopping cart across North Greeley Avenue (at Bryant) sped away from the scene of the crime and police are still looking for a suspect.

Grochowski is the 11th person to die while walking on a Portland street so far this year.

(Photo by Brian Borrello)

The artwork has been posted with the following message:

Stan was killed in the crosswalk across N. Greeley Ave and N. Bryant St., by a hit-and-run driver at 8:30 pm Tuesday August 30th, 2016. His artwork was left at the scene of his death. The homicide suspect was driving a small dark SUV (likely a 2008-2012 Toyota RAV4 with silver trim), driving southbound. A reward is offered for tips, by calling 503-823-4357.

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The Arbor Lodge Neighborhood Association will hold a vigil tonight at 6:00 pm at the intersection of Greeley and Bryant. They want to remember Grochowski and work together to make the streets in front of their homes, schools, and parks safer so tragedies like this never happen again. All are encouraged to attend.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. 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

14 Comments
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    rick September 29, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    Ghost walkers are painted in small scale form on the streets of Philadelphia, PA. The small scale makes it difficult to see the visual reminders for people driving, though.

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    I wear many hats September 29, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    One of these should go in for every vulnerable road user death. Paint the world white Portland! #zerovision

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    El Biciclero September 29, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    I like the idea of reminding ourselves how dangerous cars and bad driving can be. The question I have is whether roadway memorials like this (and ghost bikes) have the same ambiguous meaning as the rapidly-disappearing “Share The Road” signs. Vulnerable users see these reminders and think, “Yeah, drivers—watch what you’re doing!” However, many drivers may look at these memorials and think, “See? You crazy pedestrians and bicyclists—see what can happen if you’re not careful?”

    Maybe the message of “be careful on the road” is rightly directed at everyone, but how do we dispel the notion of “equal responsibility” (as so eloquently discussed in “The Lion’s Share”, one of the items linked to by this past Monday’s Roundup)? How do we make it clear that yes, pedestrians and bicyclists have a responsibility to be as predictable as possible and follow the law when it makes sense for safety, but drivers have these same responsibilities to a much higher degree, due to their choice of vehicle.

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      Kate September 29, 2016 at 1:20 pm

      Yes, I really like this but am afraid without an “RIP” under it, people will think it’s just a crosswalk marker is in the same way the little bicycle stencils are on greenways.

      (FWIW I love those stencils. I noticed neighborhood kids drew capes with sidewalk chalk on the riders in my hood. Makes me smile every time).

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      Eric Leifsdad September 29, 2016 at 3:08 pm

      A very large and permanent tombstone at the point of impact would send a clear and appropriate message: “someone died here and they’re not coming back”. It might create a traffic hazard though, so it would need some “road closed” signage or similar treatment.

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    Jayson September 29, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    PBOT will have a crew out to remove it in T-minus 5, 4, 3, ….

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    Aaron Delani September 29, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    The memorials, of any kind really strike me. It has come to a point that in my 11.5mi commute one way to Lake Oswego, I can’t help but think I may be next. But the really crazy realization that I have is, I’m less likely to be killed by a person driving a car because I’m on a bicycle, rather than a pedestrian.

    Last year’s (2015) traffic fatalities in Portland came down to 37 lives lost, and we’re inching closer to that number by the end of the year (34 as far as I know). Nearly a third of the deaths were pedestrians (10), and two were people on bicycles.

    I do hope that PBOT does not paint over the Ghost Walker. Our culture as commuters and travelers needs to change. The Ghost Walker is a reminder of that.

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    Chris Sullivan September 29, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    Thanks for posting, Jonathan.

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    Kyle Banerjee September 29, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    I personally like ghost walkers and bikes.

    Good thing they don’t do it for drivers though. The streets would be littered with wrecked autos.

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      El Biciclero September 30, 2016 at 10:22 am

      They do it for drivers/passengers, but mostly along freeways. Given my earlier comment, I think there is a more definite sense that freeway memorials (the little white crosses seen every so often, sometimes with flowers or other mementos attached) are reminders for drivers, since drivers are pretty much the only ones using these roadways.

      However, I still think we have our motivations backwards in American culture. Even though the message of freeway memorials is unmistakably targeted at drivers, and that message is pretty much unambiguously, “Drive Carefully!”, the implicit motivation for driving carefully is to protect oneself, not to avoid harming others.

      When everyone is rolling around in Armadas and Enclaves, it almost makes no difference whether you are motivated to drive carefully out of concern for yourself or concern for others (or concern for your paint job)—because everyone is pretty much equal on the freeway (with the obvious exceptions of motorcycles and semis). But that doesn’t translate to neighborhood streets with mixed mode traffic.

      In the neighborhood, if we continue to assume equality among all travelers, regardless of mode, and we carry the same motivation to “be safe”—to protect yourself—then auto drivers have fulfilled their duty to “be safe” merely by choosing a car instead of waking or using a bike. They have protected themselves in a metal cage, and therefore believe they are “being safe” by avoiding harm to themselves. The effect this has on attitudes about “safety” for bicyclists and pedestrians are pretty straightforward: “You are choosing to not protect yourself, Mr./Ms. Bicyclist or Pedestrian, so anything that happens to you is your own fault; don’t blame me, I was smart and drove a car!”

      Until we can reverse the motivation for safe operation to an assumption that I must not harm others by my vehicle operation, the backwards attitude toward safety will persist. Also notice that the motivation for safe operation on the road cannot be that “I must not inconvenience others by my vehicle operation”, as is so often projected. If saying, “I am justified in running over you because you made me brake” doesn’t sound patently absurd, we’ve got a long, long way to go.

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      Mike Sanders September 30, 2016 at 9:06 pm

      In Montana, they put up a small white cross sraked into the ground at the roadside of each traffic death along the state’s highway system. When you ride the Amtrak Empire Builder across Montana, you’ll be running alongside US-2 for most of the way. You’re likely to see several of them. Quite a few are at RR crossings – the result of people who died trying to beat the train across the rails. MDOT maintains the crosses.

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      El Biciclero October 1, 2016 at 3:11 pm

      Also, here is another, I’m sure unintentional, subtle false equivalence. To suggest that if they did this “for drivers” on surface streets, those streets would be “littered with wrecked autos“—implying the “memorials” would be to wrecked cars—you are conflating/equating property damage with loss of life.

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    El Biciclero October 1, 2016 at 7:08 pm

    Also, here is another, I’m sure unintentional, subtle false equivalence. To suggest that if they did this “for drivers” on surface streets, those streets would be “littered with wrecked autos“—implying the “memorials” would be to wrecked cars—you are conflating/equating property damage with loss of life.

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    Joe October 19, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    wow right near a crosswalk 🙁 RIP

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