May 19, 2011

Ghost Bikes

I have been intrigued by Ghost Bikes since my first encounter with this back in February of 2008.

Looking back at this blog tonight, I've posted about Ghost Bikes in one fashion or another no less than 5 times. Therefore, this post marks the 6th to touch on Ghost Bikes.

If you are not familiar with the concept, Ghost Bikes are small and somber memorials for bicyclists who are killed or hit on the street. A bicycle is painted all white and locked to a street sign near the crash site, accompanied by a small plaque. They serve as reminders of the tragedy that took place on an otherwise anonymous street corner, and as quiet statements in support of cyclists' right to safe travel.

Click the link for more detail.

Recently, the City got a complaint about one of the Ghost Bikes out there. The caller stated that this bike was an eyesore and asked for the bike to be removed. The bike in question commemorates Dennis Dumm, who I did not know. He was younger than I am, he was an artist and photographer, he rode the same roads I do, he was loved, and he was killed in a truck-bike collision on Park Ave. at about the time I ride that same road. Now, I see this bike every time I ride Park Ave. to the office.

I stopped by there tonight on the way home to size up the situation and see if the bike was in fact an eyesore. It was not bad, but it needs some maintenance. I cleaned up the easy stuff and will return tomorrow on my morning commute with a few tools to do a little bit more. I've sent an email to the City telling them that we are working on this and to ask for some time to fix it up, as well as another to the MPLS Ghost Bike people to see if it's possible to do more - the bike needs to be repainted or replaced.

I have an uneasy relationship with Ghost Bikes - I support them, but I can't help but feel for the people that live or work next to one of these. Honestly, I would not like the reminder of this in front of me every day, so homeowner or landowner approval seems really important to me. Maintenance is important as well. Installing a Ghost Bike seems noble, but an unmaintained Ghost Bike could easily become an insult to the victim and an eyesore to the community.

Lots of responsibility placing these, it seems. Hopefully this one will be spiffed up and Dennis's life commemorated appropriately.

UPDATE: The good people at Ghost Bike MPLS are on the case! Yea and thank you!


  1. I ride past that every time I ride to work. I think a daily reminder is the point, don't you?

  2. Agreed, I want it to stay there as a reminder. If it's not maintained, it will be removed, and that would be a loss. That's why I am helping to maintain it, but this needs more than I can do.

  3. Ghost Bikes can be a touchy issue. Besides what the neighbors think, I've heard of a few taken down by family request, as they didn't want the reminder of what had happened.

    There was a case over the winter where here in Portland someone actually stole a ghost bike for riding purposes. Besides all the obvious reasons why that's bad, most ghost bikes are unrideable. An eagle-eyed bus driver shamed the guy into giving it to him and he got it returned to its memorial location.

  4. It sounds like Dennis Dumm's family will be taking this bicycle in the next couple of weeks. Thank you Ghost Bike MPLS for installing and maintaining this memorial.

  5. Does anyone know what happened to the ghost bike that was on Summit at Snelling? I noticed it was gone earlier this spring, but haven't had any luck finding out why it was removed.

  6. The ghost bike people generally try to leave a bike in place for about a year or so and then remove it before it becomes a problem. Since that bike at Snelling and Summit is over a year old, I suspect it was removed by Ghostbike MPLS and not the City, but I do not know for sure.