[This text was originally published in AREA Chicago #4 in February 2007]
It has been over a year since Isai Medina was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver while walking his bike along the sidewalk on Western Avenue. At that time many people close to Medina and many who did not know him at all became compelled to recognize his senseless death by installing a Ghost Bike (a bike painted all white with a plaque describing some details about the individual) near the site where he was killed. Since that time five or more Ghost Bikes have been installed by a loose group of people who coordinate via an open online listserv and gather occasionally to build, paint, and install bikes to memorialize fallen bicycle riders.
We all are a part of multiple communities and some of them are geographically centralized on a block or neighborhood scale, while other communities of interest elude traditional geographic definitions all together. The ghost bike is an example of a decentralized community of urban cyclists finding a method to communicate with a broader public about their reality and concerns. As their website says “It’s the kind of project you wish would make itself unnecessary. Yet once we started, we began to realize just how necessary this is in Chicago—a city with a huge, vibrant, and diverse bike community, whose members take our lives into our hands every day in the streets, where we are still invisible.”
Ghost Bikes Placed:
1. 1000 N. Western Ave 2. 1400 W. Division Ave 3. 2600 W. North Ave (removed) 4. 2800 N. Pulaski Ave 5. 4600 W. Madison Ave
All Chicago Ghost Bikes photos by Daniel Alvarez and Steven Wade