The current city policy on the removal of ghost bikes in Durham needs to be simplified.
It should not be required that a resident complain about a ghost bike in order to have it removed. This only generates bureaucratic paperwork. Just have the bikes automatically removed after a respectful interval, say 30 or 60 days.
While bike safety advocates claim the bikes will help to convey an important message to drivers, they also are distracting to drivers. A far better use of bike- safety efforts would be to encourage the placement of signs throughout the city that remind drivers to share the road safety with bicyclists.
Placing a memorial indefinitely in public places is not the best way to memorialize these sad deaths. The ghost bikes and similar roadside memorials begin to look trashy as time goes by and do not do justice to the ones lost. Better to devote time to effective methods of making our streets safer for all.
Let well enough alone
I am saddened to learn about the complaint of an individual forcing the hand of the city to remove the ghost bikes.
Although I am not in the position to challenge the technical correctness of how the city handles these situations, it is sad that some individuals do not have better things to complain about when it is reasonable to presume that the majority of citizens are accepting of the ghost bikes and respectful of what they represent.
With all the more important things that need to be addressed would it have really been too much to ask of our “neighbor” to have let well enough alone in this situation? I think not.
I was very glad to see the article about the removal of ghost bikes in Durham. I feel very strongly that these memorials should remain in place. As the writers of the letter in last Sunday's paper stated, it’s grossly unfair for ONE PERSON to have the power to cause the removal of three bikes, simply by complaining.
I appreciate the memorials for several reasons, including that I think they “humanize” the city (not that they are the only features to do this), in honoring the memory of a person killed in traffic. More importantly, their presence is a reminder to those of us zipping along in our metal boxes that we must drive with care, be aware of vehicles that are less visible, like bikes and motorcycles. If more roadways had bike lanes, these tragic accidents would be less common; as such, the bikes are a form of advocacy for safety and consideration for bicyclists.
Whatever one thinks about these public memorials, it should take more than one complainer to cause their removal. I support most of the points made in Sunday’s letter to the editor, including that the complainant must specify how the bike is a nuisance and attest that they live in Durham.
As there exists a Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission, why not bring them into the process? Why have such a commission if they are not consulted about an issue that naturally fits their mission?
Lastly, whether or not Kahlil Nasir finds the bikes attractive should not be any criteria at all for a decision on their removal. I cannot begin to count the things, large and small, on Durham streets that I find unattractive, and sometimes even offensive. It has never occurred to me that I should have the right to remove them. Since when is one person’s taste the arbiter of public displays?
I hope that the city of Durham will look at this policy more carefully. Perhaps concerned citizens should plan to attend a City Council meeting, to put this issue before the folks we elected to look out for our interests.
Reminder to motorists
I don’t consider the ghost bikes to be a memorial as much as they are a reminder to motorists that they share the road with cyclists. I know that seeing them always made me slow down and think about that fact. It seems ridiculous that one man’s whining results in the decision to take the ghosts bikes down. I expect more from Durham.
Outpouring of love
An eyesore? Hardly.
I moved to Durham literally the week before Seth Vidal was hit on Hillandale, and I saw the outpouring of love the cycling community, and the greater Durham community had for him. I also drive past the location he was hit every single day, and every single time I saw the memorial, I thought about the tragedy of his loss.
The ghost bike memorials remind everyone to share the road, and about the hazards of drinking and driving. They’re not eyesores. You see them for just a few seconds at a time, but the impact is lasting.
Unique and beautiful
Above and beyond being memorials, “ghost bikes” are a unique and beautiful way of reminding drivers to share the road and cyclists to take precautions at dangerous intersections. They should remain in place indefinitely! I can’t believe one misguided complaint caused their removal. The policy should certainly be revisited, and not just from a memorial standpoint.
Not an eyesore
I agree with those who view the bikes as contributing to traffic safety and awareness about drivers sharing the road with bicyclists in our city. That is certainly the effect seeing the bikes has on me as a driver. The photo included here shows a bike with fresh flowers in a jar of water, indicating that the people who placed the bike are working to maintain the displays. In that case, I see no reason to consider them an eyesore.
I would like to see these stopped. I understand mourning. But, putting a distraction up where there has already been at least one death seems like a bad idea to me. Mourn and memorialize elsewhere.
Activist will be missed
Steve Dear is leaving People of Faith against the Death Penalty after 18 years of excellent and challenging leadership Friends, allies and leaders in this real struggle gathered July 31 at the Chapel Hill United Church to regretfully send him off with his wife to Oregon where she has a job and he will refocus.
Dear will be deeply missed. He aggressively joined in the moral movement as a doer, speaker, troublemaker and speaker of truth to the legislative powers in Raleigh.
Bob Geary in a recent “Indy” noted the wisdom Steve gained from Thomas Merton: “Offer yourself, offer your gifts. But don’t hang your ego on the outcome. What’s much more important is the life you lead and the people around you.”
Geary also quotes Steve on 18 years at People of Faith against the Death Penalty: “I have gratitude. Deep gratitude. I’m so grateful for all the beautiful people I’ve gotten to know.”
While North Carolina has not carried out a death penalty since 2006, our current legislature is hard at work to renew and carry out executions. I believe a vast majority of readers are opposed to the pending deaths of the 148 folk currently on death row. What can and will we do to maintain the current moratorium as a reflection of Steve’s hard work and leadership in this struggle?
PFADP will need lots of help re-establishing the energy that Steve Dear has set in motion.
Fox wowed 5th graders
Regarding the article “Superior Court Judge Carl Fox finds opportunity to help others” (N&O, July 19): Carl Fox annually visited my fifth-grade class at Seawell School in Chapel Hill during a study of the judicial system.
Always arriving with a smile, he’d introduce himself and explain the role of a prosecuting attorney. He didn’t lecture but instead presented a judicial dilemma for debate. He never talked down to the students, respecting their statements as he praised their thinking, while pointing to problems in their logic and the difficulty in finding fair solutions. It amazed me that in the end Carl knew every student’s name.
Year after year he turned my classroom into a perfect learning experience, one where students were engaged in critical thinking while discussing complicated issues. I once suggested that he’d make a perfect teacher.
I remember one visit when Carl came in looking tired. I asked how he felt, and he explained that he’d been working all night on a case but would not miss a session with my kids because he had promised to come. What a guy!
I could never repay him for his generosity of time and spirit, but I’m hoping someone repays him for all his contributions to our community by providing a bone marrow sample.
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