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Rogue “Ghost Bikes” Appear at 20th and R Streets, NW

by Prince Of Petworth September 10, 2009 at 9:08 am 97 Comments

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On Aug. 31st we spoke about the removal of the Ghost Bike memorial to Alice Swanson at 20th and R.

I received the following email this morning:

“Early this morning, 22 white bicycles (ghost bikes) were placed around the intersection of Connecticut Avenue, R Street, and 20th Street NW, at the location where cyclist Alice Swanson was killed. The bikes are replacing the original ghost bike which was removed by the city under the direction of the Mayor’s office. The city has also removed the secondary memorial placed by Ms. Swanson’s aunt. The original ghost bike was placed in front of La Tomate restaurant by the Washington Area Bicycle Association as a memorial to Ms. Swanson and a warning of the dangers that confront cyclists.

The bikes will be decorated with flowers throughout the day. A blog with a statement about the revenge of the ghost bikes can be found at: aliceswansonridesagain.wordpress.com

Comments (97)

  1. So stupid. If every person that ever died in this city got a permanent memorial erected, our city would be absurd-looking. Please never do this if I happen to get hit by a bike. Shit happens, bikers. No to be inflammatory, but is this just another example of the holier than thouness of bikers in general? I bike often but don’t associate with those types who tend to dominate mainstream biking.

  2. ha. thats awesome.

  3. So where are the living going to lock their bikes in Dupont Circle now that every light pole is already occupied?

    Seriously, this is really bad form. While DPW or whoever removed the bike originally placed messed up by communicating badly, I don’t see how cluttering the streetscape with white bicycles solves anything.

    The memorial stood for more than a year. Alice’s tragic death was only one of hundreds that occur every year in this city, and it was memorialized longer than any other I can think of. If a permanent memorial is desired then go through the process required to have one. But you disrespect the city that we all share by annexing public space this way, and you disrespect everyone else who has died in tragic circumstances with your self-righteous belief that your cause is more important than anyone else’s.

  4. Little memorials to shooting victims here linger for quite a long time. I don’t see the harm in one “ghost bike.”

    We all live and die but if a memorial helps the living cope I am fine with it.

  5. Wow you guys are so lame. Its a public art installation. chill out. I dont think they will be there forever so breath a sigh of relief and try and remember why you like living in the city.

  6. OMG OMG NO ROOM FOR THE LIVING!*&[email protected] Where am IIIII gonna lock my bike?!?!?!

  7. While I respect those friends of hers who are supporting this, I find this to be a little absurd. There are other ways to support a public information campaign regarding the dangers of riding a bike around DC. Wear a bike shirt with her picture, the location etc, take out legal ads in the city paper or express, do other things that don’t illegally take over our public space. A memorial in the form of a headstone is likely to have already been erected. Even with the ghost bike gone over the last week or so, I still remember it when I pass through there. If it were me, the last thing I would want is a rogue campaign “in my memory” against the public where I was killed.

  8. not sure how getting into a pissing contest with the city is serving someone’s memory.

  9. “Wow you guys are so lame. Its a public art installation. chill out. I dont think they will be there forever so breath a sigh of relief and try and remember why you like living in the city.”

    Actually, the people responsible for the memorial have stated repeatedly that they DO want it to be there forever. The last line of the blog linked above: “And this time, the ghost bike stays.

    “I don’t see the harm in one “ghost bike.”

    There are 22 now, I guess you missed the headline.

  10. This is really lame.

  11. I agree somewhat with Anon 9:15 that we can’t erect a permanent memorial for every single person who dies in this city, but I also feel sadness that the city took away the ghost bike. I think Alice Swanson’s memorial has come to stand for more than just an innocent, young girl whose life was taken away too soon- it’s an every day reminder of the tragedies that occur on the road.

    PoP, would you please upload pics of the new ghost bikes once you get them? Unfortunately, I’m nowhere near Dupont today but I’d still love to see the visual effect the bikes have!

  12. I think the larger point they’re trying to make is they care. The city thought they would remove the bike, and no one would notice, or say anything and they want to prove the mayor’s office wrong.

  13. Scared of Aggressive Drivers

    Anything that can be done to get the message across to car/bus drivers that bicyclists and pedestrians are living human beings and not prizes to collect in a video game is fine by me. Having been nearly run over by rude drivers while in a crosswalk on dozens of times (including once by a DC school bus), it’s clear that something more is needed.

  14. I have a solution.
    The ghost bike should be made of some hard candy sort of substance and allowed to disintegrate and become no more in time.
    I heartily disapprove of permanent memorials on public land, unless your name was Winston Churchill or Franklin Delano Roosevelt. etc.

  15. whatever happened to just using cemeteries as memorials for the dead?

  16. agree with anon 9:15 that this is another example of bikers being holier than thou. this is right up there with the rotting teddy bear/liquor bottle memorials, and that stupid stuffed homeless polar bear thing from a while back. yes the installations mean something to those who seek meaning in them, but to everyone else, its just a nuissance.

  17. I was very moved by Alice’s death. I have biked in DC for many years, including along the path where she lost her life. The ghost bike was a very nice memorial to her life and death but it’s time for it/them to go. If they stay, then I’m going to erect a memorial to Jerry Garcia tonight. Maybe I’ll chain a “ghost guitar” and a giant bong to a lamp post. This ghost bike thing is starting to get annoying. I hope the ghost bike’s supporters don’t sully this thing further.

  18. Reading these comments makes me sad. you guys really have your panties in a bunch about this. Its 22 bikes. one for each year of her life. And I think we all know they will not be there forever so let’s go ahead and relax on that point. the city will see to removing these as they saw to removing the first one. so why dont you guys just breath and let your balls drop. Appreciate that we live in an interesting place with interesting people that take the time and initiative to do things like this. While you guys were watching So You Think You Can Dance these people put together a thought inspiring installation and I applaud them for that.

  19. I have yet to understand how the people that are upset by the bike’s removal think the city should have handled it. They attached an object to city property for a year WITHOUT CONTACTING THE CITY for permission. They were then up set when the city removed the object WITHOUT CONTACTING THEM for permission. Get over it. The city was very generous to leave it alone for a year.

  20. @9:56 (USE NAMES ALREADY)

    No, they’re being vengeful and overreacting. The original memorial was an “inspiring installation.” This is some misdirected sense of spite toward the city.

  21. @9:56 The supporters have also said they will continue to replace the bikes until the city stops removing them, so your logic that “the city will see to removing these” is a bit flawed.

  22. This is seriously, seriously aggravating. The cover story on the City Paper this week was about the hundreds of kids who have died in DC over the past few years. Hundreds of dead kids, and Alice is the one special snowflake who gets 22 ghost bikes clogging Dupont a year after her death because some *other* special snowflakes are angry that their impromptu memorial disappeared.

    It’s not even about Alice anymore, I don’t think. It’s a hissy fit.

  23. *throws hands in the air* You guys win. I can’t defeat your logic. the bikes will remain FOREVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  24. I really hope they don’t keep replacing them. I agree with lordscarlet – it’s no longer about Alice, it’s about spite, and it’s distasteful and is making a mockery out of the whole purpose of the memorial in the first place. And besides, this is an “eff you” to the city. This is about as likely to end well as an “eff you” to the Mafia. You WILL NOT WIN.

    So now, instead of using all this energy and time to take the steps needed to erect a permanent memorial, in a place that will not be a public impediment, the activists are going to covertly acquire and install bicicyles all the time. And the taxpayers are going to pay for the removal and disposal of them all the time.

    It’s the McCoys and the Hatfields all over again, and nobody wins. When instead, they could just use that energy productively, and legally, to do something that would have lasting effect instead of becoming a joke.

  25. @10:08 Isn’t that what this is about? The city allowed the bike to stay for a year. It was removed, and people got their panties in a bunch. What did they want? Should it have been there for 13 months? Five years? Forever? The statement on the blog created by those that placed the bikes implies that they want it to remain forever.

    “ut the one thing we’re not hoping for is for the Mayor’s office to put the bike back. We put it back. And if it leaves again, we’ll put it back again. And again. And again.

    And this time, the ghost bike stays.”

  26. you guys. I cant get over it. you really think these kids will be able to find, paint, and install, these bike faster than the city can haul them away? so yr like. all really stupid i guess? appreciate this for what it is. a TEMPORARY street art statement. god forbid your pathetic drone like existances were disrupted for a minute while you were shaken from the matrix. The bikes will be removed and then you can all go on being a bunch of lame o’s.

  27. The ghost bike had tacit city approval – city council member Tommy Wells was onhand at the installation and spoke during its dedication.

    This is what the city gets for removing it without informing her family or notifying the cycling community. Was it time for the memorial to come down? Perhaps, but if the city does it in a tactless and insensitive way the bike community has every right to be pissed.

    Someone mentioned here or on dcist before; it would have cost next to nothing for the city to consult with her family and WABA and allow the installation of a small plaque on the sidewalk or lamp post. Instead the city acted as they usually do like a bunch of idiots. This is what they get. When they cut these bikes off there will probably be more.

  28. “This is what they get. When they cut these bikes off there will probably be more”

    So basically, you agree that this installation was an act of retaliation against the city for being dumbasses. An eye for an eye. What a wonderful way to memorialize Alice Swanson’s death, with a petty bickering match.

  29. “This is what the city gets for removing it without informing her family or notifying the cycling community.”

    Yes, because the city of Washington, DC – the capital of the United States of America – should not do things without notifying the nebulous “cycling community.”

    Holier. Than. Thou.

  30. I agree with lordscarlet that the city was quite generous to leave it there for a full year.

    Additionally, as someone who I both bikes and drives in the city, I think it is high time for cyclists to follow a few rules of the road and ride responsibly. This poor gal may not have been at fault, but I’ve seen enough stupidity on bikes to wonder how this doesn’t happen daily.

  31. Anon 10:15 – we get it, the logistics of continual replacement are unsustainable, but it’s still a pissing match that will probably go on for awhile longer. The problem a lot of people seem to have is that Alice is now just a pawn in a petty feud…

  32. F*() it. I’m getting bolt cutters when I get home from work.

  33. @10:15 (Is it that hard to make up a name just so we know you’re the same person as before?)

    I don’t care if it’s temporary. It’s spiteful. It’s vengeful. It in no way serves the purpose of memorializing Ms. Swanson’s death. I will state again. The original installation was artful and inspiring. This new installation is the pure opposite. I don’t see what obligation the city had to inform anyone that the bike was going to be removed.

    This has nothing to do with a “drone like existence.” I appreciated the original installation that was done purely in memory of a tragic death. I do not appreciate an installation that was created in some misdirected sense of rebellion against a city responding to complaints that the original bike was becoming a problem for business owners.

    I will not go so far as to call myself a “cyclist,” but I do commute the mile and a half to my office most days. I feel that I understand the cyclist versus motorist situation here in this city and I can appreciate the need to make sure both sides are more informed and sympathetic to the plight of one another. This “art installation” does nothing to further that purpose.

  34. Jamie: yes, I agree this is retaliation against the city for it’s dumbass actions. Like I said, perhaps it was time for the original bike to come down, but the way the city did it was childish and tacky. The 22 bikes may be as well, but it may make the city take notice since they don’t seem to listen to much else.

    Minerva: The ‘cycling community’ in this case would be the friends and family of Alice Swanson and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association [WABA] which has worked with the family, the city and law enforcement on this incident. WABA has about 7000 area members, so yes – there is something of a “cycling community” here.

  35. Maybe WABA should educate its bikers that they will never win in a car wreck, no matter how much they shout “share the road!” The driver was found blameless in this incident as apparently Alice was in his blind spot in an intersection where he was making a legal, signaled turn. I also heard she didn’t have decent brakes, though can’t verify that. I personally feel sorry for the driver, who was also traumatized.

  36. The premise that the city needs someone’s permission to remove anything from public property is absurd. The premise that any random tragedy deserves a lifetime memorial, even a plaque (as suggested), is absurd. The premise that the city should relent and allow it because it would be cheaper and “cost next to nothing” to allow random memorials is absurd. Her death sucks and her friends and fans should privately mourn it and quit taxing city resources. RIP Alice.

  37. The city should start issuing some nice fat fines…

  38. “Jamie: yes, I agree this is retaliation against the city for it’s dumbass actions. Like I said, perhaps it was time for the original bike to come down, but the way the city did it was childish and tacky. The 22 bikes may be as well, but it may make the city take notice since they don’t seem to listen to much else.”

    So I’ll repeat my previous comment. It’s obviously no longer about the tragedy, it’s about a pissing match.

    It’s childish. It serves no purpose, it wastes time and resources on the part of both the individuals responsible and the city, that could otherwise be used to do something positive. And as such it sullies the memory of Alice Swanson. And even more importantly, as is obvious by the fact that a majority of commenters think this is stupid, it does not help the cause but actually hurts it.

  39. Now 22 previously bike-less ghosts are happy! Yay!

  40. the people responsible for this should spend 30 days in jail.

  41. 22 bikes. That’s a lot of bikes. Think many/any of them work? In okay condition? And they’re going to tie up more bikes if these get taken away? Because, seriously, a better memorial would be to take these bikes and give them to folks who could use them. Get more people to ride bikes, especially underprivileged kids/adults who wouldn’t otherwise. More bikes, more awareness, more safety. And the bikes would be ridden by people who really could use them.

    But no, go ahead and just litter them around. That’ll do something good.

  42. When I walk I hate drivers, When I drive I hate pedestrians .. but I ALWAYS hate bicyclists.

  43. Hey Guys? Remember Natalie Halloway?

    Why is it that people only get worked up into a frenzy for white girls while millions of other people die tragically every day and no one gives a sh!t.

  44. The city should have made an effort to speak with the family before removing the bike. But, after a given period (like a year) I think it is time to move on and memorials should come down. That seems to be the standard in DC with the stuffed animals placed at the site of murders.

  45. oldmanclem You are totally right… it would be a 100000 times more useful to give these bikes to people who can use them… even just to poor kids for fun.

    Or melt them down to scrap metal and use the money to feed even 1 hungry person.

    Anything would be more helpful than this nonsense. But of course, just like stupid yellow ribbons.. its all about making yourself feel like a good person out of the tragedy of others.

  46. Hey there! I interviewed the guy who did this last night before he did it. Cool guy. Here it is: http://tinyurl.com/mzd45p

  47. I’m more offended by the shoddy spray-paint jobs on the bikes than I am by anything else.

  48. Has there been any reaction from Alice’s family regarding the removal of the first ghost bike or the installation of these bikes?

    Don’t forget that this guy is a self proclaimed anarchist; his comments and installation were designed to get a response and it’s working. Note that he calls the installation a “public art project,” which I find telling.

    He is clearly using this tragedy and the resulting removal dust-up as a convenient means to gain attention. Hooray, you succeeded, attention-hungry anarchist!

  49. Minerva Says:

    September 10th, 2009 at 10:07 am
    This is seriously, seriously aggravating. The cover story on the City Paper this week was about the hundreds of kids who have died in DC over the past few years. Hundreds of dead kids, and Alice is the one special snowflake who gets 22 ghost bikes clogging Dupont a year after her death because some *other* special snowflakes are angry that their impromptu memorial disappeared.

    It’s not even about Alice anymore, I don’t think. It’s a hissy fit.

    yep.

    ***

    DC has a lot of people packed into a tiny infrastructure using multiple modes of transportation. It takes a phenomenal amount of patience and care to navigate these streets. I’ve almost hit people and have almost been hit-by a Metro bus that did not stop for the crosswalk sign, scooters and cyclists.

    I wish cyclists could spare the concern towards pedestrians that they require from drivers.

  50. @ontarioroader: I seriously doubt WABA had anything to do with these latest ghost bikes. The original, yes, not this “retaliation”.

    I ride in the city every day, whether commuting or out training. Yes, cyclists get the short end of the stick, but some frankly deserve it. Ride defensively and watch your back. We’re targets out there, and let’s face it: acts of martyrdom like this only provide fuel to the fire for those who hate us anyway. Many don’t see it my way, but I’ve found that calmly speaking to drivers that you catch up to at a light and explaining that they put your life in danger a few hundred feet ago will often draw an apology. Getting into confrontations only raises the stakes in a game that we are bound to lose. It’s not a popular opinion among the militant cycling “elite”, but, hey, it works for me.

    And Anon:

    “Appreciate that we live in an interesting place with interesting people that take the time and initiative to do things like this. While you guys were watching So You Think You Can Dance these people put together a thought inspiring installation and I applaud them for that.”

    Really? REALLY?! Maybe you are the one who needs to get out more. There’s much more to this world than your self-indulgent childishness, but you probably are incapable of realizing that.

  51. I think the installation of the 22 bikes has served its purpose even if they are taken down today. Thousands of people – on bikes, foot and in cars – drive by this intersection everyday. If even a small fraction of them notice the bikes and think about why they are there, then the lessons of her death are retold or reinforced.

    I find it hard to get worked up about this (the taking down of the first one, or the placement of the 22) either way. I didnt expect the first one to be there forever. I also dont expect these new ones to be there forever. In the meantime its drawing attention to the dangers of having cars, pedestrians and bikes all in such close proximity without each fully appreciating the others’ presence. I think a lot of folks on both sides could do well by their blood pressure to chill out a bit on this.

  52. “If even a small fraction of them notice the bikes and think about why they are there, then the lessons of her death are retold or reinforced. ”

    The thing is, unless you already knew about the bikes and why they were there, you would not take anything at all away from it. Why would a person who otherwise was unaware of their purpose be able to magically divine that knowledge?

    Myself, I already know why they are there, so all they are doing for me is drawing attention to something else I have to watch out for in the sidewalk while walking around Dupont Circle.

  53. City Paper’s blog has something up about it and they interviewed the guy who did it…he didn’t even know Ms. Swanson, what a tool…as someone on another blog pointed out, he’s like BORF (although I do think he lives in the city).

    Re: BitterElitist: wish cyclists could spare the concern towards pedestrians that they require from drivers.

    HEAR! HEAR! If I get yelled at, crowded out, hit, nudged by one more bicyclist on the SIDEWALK (not bike path, but SIDEWALK) while I’m walking I’m going to start carrying a stick to shove in your wheel spokes (not really, but I have mental images of doing it and it makes me feel better)

  54. Did anyone hear the piece on NPR last night about how many underaged girls are trafficked in the sex trade HERE IN DC?

    I’m just sayin’.

  55. @Jimmy D

    “In the meantime its drawing attention to the dangers of having cars, pedestrians and bikes all in such close proximity without each fully appreciating the others’ presence.”

    Really? Do you think so? I think it’s drawing attention to people being pissy about the District removing a memorial and going overboard in retaliation — and that’s just for people in the know. Everyone else? They’re just wondering why the bikes are crowding the sidewalk during rush hour.

  56. f I get yelled at, crowded out, hit, nudged by one more bicyclist on the SIDEWALK (not bike path, but SIDEWALK) while I’m walking I’m going to start carrying a stick to shove in your wheel spokes (not really, but I have mental images of doing it and it makes me feel better)

    Just FYI, those cyclists are on the sidewalk because they don’t feel safe riding in the street where they belong.

    Just saying.

  57. RE: IBC…I totally get that they are on the sidewalk because they don’t feel safe on the streets, but that doesn’t in turn give them the right to make me feel unsafe on the sidewalk, which happens more often than not…

  58. “Just FYI, those cyclists are on the sidewalk because they don’t feel safe riding in the street where they belong. ”

    Then perhaps they should consider walking.

  59. @lordscarlet: Yes, I do think it serves as a warning. I’d expect most folks passing by don’t know the story as it stands detailed in the blogosphere. They simply see white bikes with flowers near an intersection – which to even the passively thoughtful means “someone on a bike died here.”

    No offense to PoP, but I imagine if I asked every person that passed by that intersection whether they regularly read this blog, DCist and the like, the majority would say no (but we can dream, PoP, one day). I imagine even fewer would know the background story of the silly back and forth between some guy and DC govt. over these bikes.

    It’s clear from the comments above what emotions it stirs – and such surprisingly strong ones I might add – out of the people that know the background story. However, I highly doubt any of the passers-by that don’t know the story are thinking “I bet these bikes are here because one year ago some girl died after being hit by a garbage truck and then her family put up a ghost bike and then recently the city took it down and then this guy from Columbia Heights thought it would be a good idea to put up one for each year she was alive – which by my count would be 22., and man I am so inconvenienced by them being in the sidewalk.” Unless, of course, the person that reached such a detailed conclusion by simply seeing the white bikes is Sherlock Holmes reincarnate. In which case I gladly stand corrected.

    And yes, walking by, before I read this blog, I thought about it. I assumed their meaning because I am mildly astute. I did not guess as to all the background details because I am not off-the-charts astute. I most certainly didn’t care about them being in the sidewalk any more than the lampposts to which they were attached.

    I didnt know or care about the petty background stuff. Now that I know about the petty stuff, I am sticking with the I dont care about the petty stuff side of things.

  60. 22 fewer places to park a bike. This is what Alice Swanson will be remembered for.

  61. “whatever happened to just using cemeteries as memorials for the dead?”

    +1

    Seriously, if they feel like they need additional outlets to memorialize her life they should follow the process just like everyone else to put up an official memorial/statue/whatever. This is silly.

  62. Agree with above. Plus, the city put a sign up, something that drivers will actually see at that intersection better than one or 22 bikes on a sidewalk, and perhaps prevent another accident:

    http://whyihatedc.blogspot.com/2009/09/ddot-installs-sign-at-connecticut-and-r.html

  63. IBC – “Just FYI, those cyclists are on the sidewalk because they don’t feel safe riding in
    the street where they belong. ”

    No IBC.. bikes don’t belong in the street. Nothing annoys me more than driving 10mph behind some chubby yuppie up the ‘hill’ on 16th street because she insists on driving to the left of the parked cars and leaves no space for cars to pass her when there is oncoming traffic.

    Also, if bikers insist on using the roads they should also consider the stop signs and lights apply I bet there are plenty of ‘accitents’ where bikers get injured because they feel they can cross intersections at their whim or fit in between lanes etc.

    To be fair, biking is a much more practical method of transportation for urban areas… but the city has to be DESIGNED with that in mind. DC wasn’t so until then just take a bus or walk.

  64. Pennywise, all other arguments on this page aside, your post is completely inaccurate.

  65. This ‘memorial’ seems to have done two things.

    1) Bring to everyones attention what whiny yuppie douches bikers are.

    2) Aligned bikers on the same level with Peta and Greenpeace – tards.

    Great job bikers! You are now as annoying as smelly hippie kids with clipboards wasting my time!

  66. its hard to let people go.

  67. Maybe they could instead donate 22 bikes to kids in the city who don’t have them. Seems like it would be a nice gesture in Alice Swanson’s memory, and it would sidestep the problem of bikes taking up public space.

  68. Glover Park, how so? The driver was not charged with anything, right? She did get killed, correct? So, how was it not her fault? I know its tragic, but lesson one in drivers ed was beware blind spots, especially on trucks.

    I admit the bad brakes thing is just a rumor heard at the bike shop (yes I bike too, and know cars can kill me no matter what the painted lines on the road indicate).

  69. Cheers, Amanda.

  70. Amanda–I like your suggestion of donating bikes to local children. What a great way to honor someone, whose live and death has effected so many. Donating bikes or starting a charity in her name–teaching kids bike safety–now that’s a lasting memorial.

  71. Yes, she is no longer with us but 22 bikes is a bit too much and the bikes are not really doing anything. We need enforcement and civility on all sides. I have yet to see the accident report so the jury is still out.

  72. Bikes are children’s toys. It’s not surprising in a city chock full of overgrown babies so many people don’t see any problem with being a public nuisance on the road with their toys. “Screw everyone else, I’m far superior since I ride a bike.”

  73. what a great idea to donate bike. isnt there a carity that fixes up old bikes for kids?

  74. and or teaches kids how to repair bikes?

  75. People.. lets not get crazy,

    donating these bikes would rob some artsy asshat from attracting attention to himself while exploiting the personal tragedy of strangers, not to mention – add 22 more potential tragedies on the road.

  76. inmtpl, you’re thinking of the late, great Chain Reaction Youth Bike Shop, which was part of the Shaw Eco Village, both of which somehow collapsed a year or two ago. Not sure why…

  77. @Controversy:

    “Large SUVs and trucks that are never used to carry cargo or more than 4 people …
    Sports cars …
    $100,000 luxury sedans …

    … are children’s toys. It’s not surprising in a city chock full of overgrown babies so many people don’t see any problem with being a public nuisance on the road with their toys. “Screw everyone else, I’m far superior since I drive an expensive car.”

  78. Not being charged with a violation of law and being “blameless” are not the same. Are you really trying to convince me that it’s my responsibility to stay out of other’s blind spots? That’s what your statement implies.

    Yes you can be right and be dead at the same time. No argument there, but don’t cheapen this woman’s death by heaping blame on her. I feel for the driver, too. But he’s also alive.

  79. Umm, yes, generally it is your responsibility to stay out of someones blind spot, as they can’t see you there, hence the name blind spot. Go ahead and take a drive or go biking and do your best to stay IN someone’s blind spot and see what happens, sooner or later they will merge on to you.

  80. Yes In Glover Park – Pennywise is right that blind spots are to be respected by other drivers (especially when it comes to trucks because they have no way of looking on their right in any other way than using the mirrors ( as opposed to a passenger vehicle which has windows all around you can see through ).

    In fairness though, we don’t know however whether the driver signaled that he is making the turn which is the absolute determinant of fault in this case.

  81. As a defensive driver/rider, you should be wary of being in someone’s blind spot. I’m not aware, however, that one can be found at fault for being hit while legally operating there. Please point me to a jurisdiction that has traffic laws written as such.

  82. In Glover Park. A truck driver has no way to see into their blind spot on the right side. Only their mirrors can give them any information as to what is behind but there is still a blind spot.

    This is a common problem for bicyclists and has been covered in many bicycle safety materials and courses.

    Perhaps the real lesson to learn here is that bicyclists should not be granted the automatic right to “share the road” and instead should EARN that right by completing some sort of mandatory rules course and earning a sort of license like automobile operators do.

  83. Life and physics have a law on that, in that you get crushed if you ignore it. Some things you’re supposed to learn in kindergarten. And with that, I’m outta here… (and please stay out of blind spots and remember the painted lines on the road give you no protection!!!)

  84. Rider and Pennywise, I’m well aware as to how trucks operate, their inherent blind spots, and the need to be cautious of them.

    If you’re going to argue that you can hit someone with legal impunity, because they’re in your blind spot, show me. This is not about cars vs bikes. I want to see where it says that someoene else is responsible for not being in your blind spot. This is what you’re arguing. Show me so that I can stop checking over my shoulder before changing lanes.

  85. I am not saying that the person in the blind spot should be responsible and that you should not look over your shoulder when driving a passenger car.

    I am saying that a truck driver CANT see over their shoulder. They even have big stickers on the back of most trucks that warn people about the blind spot with pictures and all that. Anyone operating ANY vehicles on a road should be aware of these dangers and operate their vehicles accordingly.

  86. I’d have no idea where to find that info. I do know the driver was not charged nor ticketed, which seems to prove the point, but without a detailed report I cannot say. I’d think it would be common sense, and that the death in this case indicates all the right and wrong necessary, but perhaps you’re a lawyer or pre-law or something… Please do try and find that info and I look forward to reading up on it (snicker snicker).

  87. Rider, agreed.

    Pennywise, that’s a can of worms agree to disagree. I enjoyed it.

  88. inmtpl and Pennywise:

    There is another shop that does this – Phoenix Bikes in Arlington. They’re good people (but call ahead, their stock is pretty limited).

  89. No IBC.. bikes don’t belong in the street. Nothing annoys me more than driving 10mph behind some chubby yuppie up the ‘hill’ on 16th street because she insists on driving to the left of the parked cars and leaves no space for cars to pass her when there is oncoming traffic.

    No, actually, it’s legal to ride in the street so suck it up. I know it really shouldn’t matter to me in the least, but the fact that nothing annoys you more than being stuck behind someone on a bicycle is enough to make me want to get my bike out and go for a ride. In the street. Where bicycles belong.

  90. Anon @ 3:46: I walk and take public transport, as would any ADULT in an urban environment, you babbling moron.

  91. @Controversy: Do you really believe bikes are for children? I think you’re belittling shows who is acting like whom in this situation. And to be clear:

    From my door I can take 3 or 4 different direct bus lines to work depending on how far I want to walk and when the next one is (thank you, NextBus!). Time: 40-50 minutes including walks to and from the bus stops.

    I can walk in approximately 35 minutes

    Bike? 12-15 minutes

    And before you mention a car, that would take me 25-30 minutes in morning traffic (I work in the heart of downtown and pass cars on that route every day; none of them pass me back)

    So I’m a moron for taking what is demonstrably, empirically THE FASTEST mode of transportation to work? Intriguing, please enlighten me more.

  92. @Controversy: And I reformatted your rant to merely point out the flaw in your logic: the mode of transportation doesn’t matter here. There are entitled a$$holes driving, biking, walking, and scootering all over the place in DC. To single out bikers as “childish” is absurd. Are there some petty, spiteful, entitled bikers out there? Hell yes (more often than not: thy name is messenger). Are there an equal proportion of petty, spiteful, entitled car drivers out there? You bet!

  93. no matter what your little blackberry thinks, IT’S means IT IS. it’s not the possessive pronoun. if you want to talk about your bike and its tires, don’t say “it’s tires.” learn to spell. computers and blackberries are very smart, but they have no common sense.

    anyway, I loved Alice Swanson’s ghost bike. I’m sorry it’s gone. I’m sorry Alice herself is gone, too, though I did not know her. I in no way think she was one of those fatheaded bikers who totally scoff at traffic laws. She got run over by a garbage truck when she was in the bike lane wearing a helmet. By all accounts, she was a lovely, caring, happy young woman, but her number was up. I liked the idea of putting up a ghost bike wherever a cyclist is killed–wasn’t it explained that this is a custom in NYC or some other car vs bicycle mecca? i doubt they stay up for even a year up there, but you never know.

    it was insensitive of the city to just take down the memorial that meant so much to so many people, whether we knew Alice Swanson or not, without saying boo to her family or the public. but it’s also distressing that some people are putting up FAKE memorials just to protest the city’s insensitivity.

    i agree with the person who mentioned the city paper’s current issue about how kids die in DC. it’s truly horrendous. one little girl died a horrible death after having maybe 8 of her rotting teeth pulled without getting any antibiotics. she never got a chance to grow up beautiful and caring and healthy enough to ride a bike to work like Alice Swanson. And she is just one of the many children who die here every year–in fires, accidents, pain, neglect, and abuse. what kind of meaningful memorial can we make for them? The city’s municipal workers–firemen, police, street cleaners–are overwhelmed with situations like this every day. Can we at least quit whining when things don’t go precisely our way?

  94. Are there some petty, spiteful, entitled bikers out there? Hell yes (more often than not: thy name is messenger). Are there an equal proportion of petty, spiteful, entitled car drivers out there? You bet!

    Bottom line: no one has a greater sense of petulant entitlement and arrogance than auto drivers. That’s why when I’m behind the wheel, I like to make things as irritating as possible for my fellow drivers. How do I do this? By driving the speed limit, yielding to pedestrians, coming to a full stop at stop signs, stopping at yellow lights.

    They totally lose their shit, and not only is it safer for non-driver-humans in the shared urban environment, but it’s very entertaining.

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