Monday, August 16, 2010

Visiting The Ghost Bike In Tampa

I posted a photo of this Ghost Bike Sunday. The photo was sent to me by the maker of the Ghost Bike, which memorializes the life of retired Admiral LeRoy Collins of Davis Islands, killed while riding a bicycle along South Hyde Park Avenue at the Brorein Street corner shortly after 6 AM July 29. The person who fashioned the Ghost Bike has requested anonymity and I will comply with that request. The Ghost Bike was put into place Sunday.

This afternoon I bicycled to see the Ghost Bike in person. It left a big impact. To see it in person drives home the fact that being a bicyclist in this area means you have to be on high alert when cycling at all times. For me, it means cycling with my hands on the brake hoods and scanning every side street, every vehicle and every corner.

I also pedal with the notion of being ready in a heartbeat to spring into action to avoid being struck by a car. My bike-commuting in New York City prepared me well for the unpredictable and aggressive nature of Tampa Bay's drivers.

I didn't know Mr. Collins. But I am friends with his bicyclist son, Ed, an experienced cyclist who is still hurting. Ed appeared before a Tampa City Council meeting recently to advise the city to take action to make our streets safer.

Ed told me today that he still hasn't been emotionally ready to get on his bicycle since the day his dad was killed while riding a bike.

The person who fashioned the Ghost Bike did a remarkable job at creating a moving and beautiful memorial.

For example, there are 14 stars on the chainguard. The 14 represent Mr. Collins, his wife, their four children and eight grandchildren.

At the request of the Ghost Bike maker, I wove the jasmine plant vines into the front wheel spokes this afternoon.

The top tube is two stars -- Mr. Collins was a two-star admiral.

If you notice, the Ghost Bike is very close to the Selmon Expressway. Wouldn't it be great to have a bike trail below the toll expressway. There are plans to accomplish that -- check out the Selmon Expressway Greenway Trail proposal on Wednesday from 4-6:30 PM at Union Station.

Bottom line -- please drive your bicycle like the vehicle it is.

Stay safe everyone.