Today, May 1, 2015 begins National Bike Month. You can expect to see more bicyclists on the road (and hopefully you will be one of them) as a means of transportation and recreation. I want to draw a bit of attention to visibility, bicycle laws, and just watching out for each other while using the streets to get from one area to another, regardless of your mode of transportation.
On October 31, 2014 at 5:00am my father woke-up, made breakfast and packed his lunch. He pulled out the candy for the neighborhood kids coming later that evening all dressed up. Like clockwork at 5:30am he kissed his fiancé goodbye, put on his bicycle riding gear, helmet and his high visibility vest. He packed his computer and work materials into the saddle bag on his bicycle, and checked his tall bike flag, like every day before, and rode off to work.
10 minutes later he was tragically hit and killed by a tractor-trailer on an almost empty city road. I wish there was a way to have delayed him 10 seconds, had him leave earlier or any other crazy scenario that I imagined could have played this out differently. Every day since I still reach for the phone to call him and forget for a brief moment that he is no longer with us and passed too early at the age of 57.
This story is one of loss and also one of awareness of how quickly things can change. A fitting tribute was put-up where this occurred in Chesapeake, VA (Cedar Road and Albemarle Drive) called a GhostBike. You may have seen these around town: it’s a pure white bicycle put up as a small memorial for bicyclists who were hit or killed at that location. There are hundreds of these all over the world that help to bring awareness to these locations and also give the community a place to remember the individual(s). Since the passing of my father I have noticed GhostBikes in several cities; they serve as a fitting tribute and memorial to the individuals who are no longer with us, and help to bring better visibility to areas where accidents like this have occurred. I want to thank the individuals/group who put this up as we heard immediately when it was erected, in a visible spot, and we heard from over 100 people about how they saw this and knew it was for the “bicycle guy” they saw twice a day pass that section and how this made them think about other bicyclists that are actively riding and to give them a bit more space to ride safely.
On 4/29 the GhostBike for my father was removed by the Chesapeake Department of Public Works, as directed by Earl Sorey, with no notice. On 4/30 several people responded to the City and asked that the memorial be put back up, and also install an official Watch for Bikes sign with a memorial plaque. On the start of today, May 01, and the start to Bike Month, Chesapeake City Mayor Krasnoff sent an email with his recommendation to City Manager James Baker and the Department of Public Works Director Eric Martin and Asst. Director Earl Sorey to reinstall the GhostBike to show support for bicyclist, bicycle safety and the memorial for Kirk Turner. Earl Sorey and Eric Martin have at last email taken the stance that they want this removed with details on why forthcoming. If you would take a moment to voice your support on this topic to these individuals–easorey at cityofchesapeake.net & emartin at cityofchesapeake.net—it would be great appreciated. Also, thanks Mayor Krasnoff for his continued support to the biking community. Email him akrasnoff at cityofchesapeake.net to say thank you for your support.
And if you get the chance, bicycle riding can be a safe and adventurous means of travel and recreation. Plan on one additional day or trip that you otherwise would not have done this month.
The next time you are riding in the car, pressed for time and see a bicyclist riding, give them a little more space and time so they too can get there safely.
On behalf of my father, Kirk Turner, our family and the biking community,