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for a second it seemed counter-productive and annoying, and then I thought about it for a second...
suppose in 1910 or so someone parked 22 cars out at the curb, painted white, in protest of automobile safety (which was just starting to be a big rallying cry at the time). They protested, and the infastructure got better. Now the curb is full of cars every day......

yes it's a bit annoying if you're not used to seeing that many bikes here, but consider this - if a lot more people were using bikes - as we'd encourage them to, the street would probably look exactly like this anyway.... and one day maybe it will.

the safety improvements like separated lanes are necessary in order to get more people to ride bikes, and when they do, it will look just like the protest here every day.

in light of that, it's amost amusing that there is a police report.

try that in copenhagen or amsterdam sometime - police report! there are spray-painted bikes all over the place! it must be some kind of protest! we try to remove them, and more keep showing up! hah...

If the city make the kinds of serious infrastructure changes for bikes that those cities have, then some day the city will look like this protest every day.

Although I sympathize with the sentiment, this is probably counterproductive. When I first heard that the city had removed the original ghost bike, I was upset. Now that I learn that it is city policy to remove memorials after 30 days, I feel a little different. It appears that the city graciously left the bike in place well past 30 days, until (apparently) there were merchant complaints, which they were more or less obliged to honor.

So now the raft of ghost bikes looks a lot less like an understandable response to an insensitive government, and a lot more like another act of cyclist anarchy (à la Critical Mass).

I agree that the city could have handled this more gracefully and that safety improvements are important, but I'm not sure that this albeit well-meaning gesture is particularly helpful to cyclist public relations.

The comments on blogs have been, unfortunately, mostly negative - but then they often are when cycling is the issue.

While most of the comments have been negative, most folks have taken issue with the fact that the "artist" is a parasitic Borf-like attention-grabbing hipster dill-whistle...not with bike safety or cyclists in general.

As a bike commuter, frequent rider, and like most others a veteran of bicycle accidents, deaths like that of Alice Swanson hit me close to home. However, I don't see why Ms Swanson's memorial should receive different treatment than that of others.

I have walked past more than one memorial for others who were killed -- shooting victims. These memorials are indeed removed after a short period. Like Alice's memorial these memorials decry bad things that happen in our community.

What about Alice Swanson and/or her memorial makes it worthy of staying for eternity while others do not?

Look, the memorial was up for over a year. I understand the family sadness but at a point you have to have a rules and limintations on public displays of greif. If you allow this to remain up then you have to allow the giant plush bear taped to the lamp post on Sherman and Harvard to remain as well.

I think they should allow a small bronze plaque on the sidewalk, but the time had come for the ghostbike.

That being said, the city should have give a bit of advance notice

If it is district policy to remove memorials after 30 days, it has been a very well kept secret. I couldn't find any statement of this policy prior to yesterday's. It isn't mentioned in the Post's article from last year, for example.

What it seems like to me is that the city tore it down without officially contacting the well-known organization that sponsored it to say "we think it's time to move on, how would you like to go about removing it?" and then hid behind some made-up policy. If that's policy, why did they let it stay for over a year? Do you really believe it was out of graciousness, based on how they removed it? I've seen other memorials last more than 30 days, so I don't buy the "it's policy" line. I think it sat there because no one at DPW even thought of removing it until someone complained.

As to whether this will be counterproductive, we'll see. As protests go it has generated a lot of attention and no one is actually harmed or inconvenienced so I don't see this as having a real negative impact. People who think cyclists are jerks will see their opinion reinforced perhaps. It's peaceful protest through art - if that's counterproductive then I'm not sure what kind of protest will satisfy people.

WABA was not against removing this memorial - if done in an appropriate manner. It was DCist who mentioned the "in perpetuity" thing because that's what you find when you look up Ghost Bikes on the internet. I don't think anyone involved really thought the memorial should be there in the year 3000, much less for eternity.

But this memorial had, for whatever reason, taken on a more beloved position than the other unofficial memorials in the city. It was cared for. It had a sponsor. It was more photographed than many other official DC memorials. It was well known. The fact that there was an outcry at it's removal and the subsequent protest in a sense speaks to the importance the community places on this incident and this memorial - and that doesn't have to be logical. You ask what is it about her memorial that makes it worthy of staying and my answer is that a lot of people want it to. But yes, there should be a time - maybe in 29 days - when a somber yet hopeful and reverent ceremony, attended by family and friends should remove the bike. It should not be done by some DPW employee with a pair of bolt cutters.

Difference between Alice Swanson Memorial and shooting victim memorials? Alice Swanson memorial was dedicated to a white, educated, incredibly attractive young woman while shooting memorials are typically for 18 year-old gang bangers who sold heroin until they wandered into someone else's pissing area.

Difference between the AS memorial and car crash memorials? people expect people to die senselessly behind the wheel, so from a public perspective it just does not warrant as much of an outcry.

I don't know, just my knee jerk reaction to all the din from the past 24 hours or so.


Killed not through terrible violence but someone's negligence! It should definitely stay! How could they take that down!!

Yeah, I didnt see WABA erecting ghost bikes to any of the other bike fatalites in the past two years either....but perhaps being in suburbia and/or dark skinned is makes it a less important death.

I was at the dedication and was really annoyed that Eric and WABA took what I thought was supposed to be the erection of a memorial for Ms. Swanson and turned it into a fundraiser/call for WABA support. The "sign up for information about the accident" form that I put my email on has only resulted in fundraisng notices for WABA and nothing at all about the accident.

For whatever reason, Alice Swanson's death touched the local zeitgist in a way other fatalities have not. It happened during the morning rush in a pedestrian heavy part of town - so there were a lot of witnesses to the aftermath and a greater ability to empathize. It was a block from WABA HQ. She was a bike commuter. She died almost instantly. There was no evidence that she broke the law. So there are a lot of reasons, beyond her appearance, that contributed to her situation being elevated in my opinion.

If it is district policy to remove memorials after 30 days, it has been a very well kept secret. I couldn't find any statement of this policy prior to yesterday's. It isn't mentioned in the Post's article from last year, for example.

Right, but what the city does have is a policy for impounding bicycles parked in public space.

You can read it here:


Look for Section 1210, "Impounding of Bicycles." They didn't come anywhere close to following their own policies in this case. The "just following procedures" line rings hollow in this case.

Ah yes, the local zeitgeist. Kind of like Chandra Levy... Anyone else remember the "summer of Chandra"?

Every life has equal value. Some are just more equal than others.

I am a daily bicycle commuter in DC. I saw the original ghost bike memorial on Conn. Ave. north of Dupont Circle many, many times. The first time it was genuinely moving. Slowly, as the months rolled on, I began to wonder why on earth this white bicycle was still there. The response of this guy Legba Carrefour to the very proper decision taken by the police to remove the bike is simply absurd. That this man would dare to compare this with grave-robbing is beyond belief. Get over it, dude. Your personal memories and memorials do not overrule public order. Nobody could be more in favor than I am of heightened awareness of the presence of bicycles on the part of car and truck drivers. Nobody could be more in favor of increasing the bike-friendliness of this town through many concrete measures. But this is just a joke. Bicyclists waste political capital with nonsense causes like this. He really makes me angry, this jerk Carrefour. He most certainly does not represent the bicyclists as a group. Make sure to let people know that, if you are a cyclist.

I fail to see how this protest "overrules the public order." If he had just put 22 bikes at the intersection and walked away the only illegal part would be that he locked one bike to a streetlight and that he left it locked up longer than 12 hours.

The white bicycle was still there because it has taken DC more than 16 months to make a few small safety modifications at that intersection.

The police didn't remove the ghost bike, DPW did. And though they were within the law, it was handled poorly I think.

There were many Ghost Bikes in NYC during my visit. Do we have them in Sacramento? It is a good way of getting drivers to look out for bicycle riders.

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