July 18th, 2013- a cyclist was struck and killed in the Mile End district of Montreal. Last week, I was attending ApacheCon in Montreal, and saw this beautiful Ghost Bike.
Kristen Green has been leading Chicago’s Ghost Bike program for several years. I met her last year and have become interested in Ghost Bikes in general. She does an amazing job, but there is only one of her and so many bike incidents. As you can tell, this bike is different than the ones we normally see around Chicago…
Any time a cyclist is killed it is tragic, but this beautiful display was especially bitter-sweet. Sweet because the people cared and remembered this person so much that they continue to keep up this wonderful memorial five years after the incident. Sweeter still because this is such a rare occurrence in Montreal, where Vision Zero has been implemented, that people still care and remember when horrible events like this happen.
But it’s also bitter. It’s bitter that this woman lost her life, but even more bitter is the fact that this happens so often in Chicago that it’s just another thing. How many ghost bikes have you seen this week? How many looked maintained- much less covered in notes, pictures, and flowers? You may be surprised to learn that Chicago adopted Vision Zero before Canada, and yet has made almost no progress towards that end. The people of Chicago and the people of the First Ward deserve more.
Incumbent Joe Moreno, has taken some steps towards increasing bike safety in the Ward. My favorite Joe story is where Joe “impersonated police”. (He actually just told some lady to get out of the bike lane). But there is a lot of room for improvement. It’s time to send Joe a message that bike safety is something we take very seriously, and that we want Chicago to make progress towards Vision Zero. (Challenger Daniel La Spata, as best I can tell has no opinions on bike safety.)
What Can You Do?
- Call up Kristen and volunteer to help with Ghost Bikes Chicago
- Sign my petition to be on the ballot so I can address Joe about this in public forum.
- “Stay Alert, Stay Alive” (old Army saying but on your bike in Chicago sadly is relevant).