Over the past year, Tempe Bicycle Action Group has worked with the City of Tempe council and staff on properly retiring the two ghost bikes that we placed in Tempe over 3 years ago. The city officials and staff at all levels went above and beyond to handle a tough situation with dignity and respect, give plenty of notice and time to work with the families, friends, and the local bike community, and also offered their time and equipment to re-locate the bikes.
The ghost bike at University and Ash has been re-located to the Bike Saviours bike co-op where it was built. Bike Saviours is working with the family of the man killed, Chris Volpe, on ideas for a more permanent memorial and continued public education.
The ghost bike at Alameda and McClintock was re-located in cooperation with the family of the man who was killed, Jay Fretz. The family has chosen to keep the bike themselves as a private memorial.
Aside from it’s purpose as a memorial, a ghost bike’s greatest impact is immediate bicycle awareness when a tragedy happens. The goal is to remind people to watch for bikes and respect their presence as traffic. As time goes on, the ghost bike can also benefit real change and create positive dialog about bike facilities and bike safety, including the possibility of signage or engineering changes in general, but also where the accidents happened.
Last year, the city of Tempe adopted it’s first policy for the management of any roadside memorials. In doing so they “acknowledge a desire to allow temporary memorials within the street right-of-way and adjacent to city owned land”. This is a positive step since roadside memorials were not allowed before. TBAG will continue to work with the city on the specifics of this policy when it concerns future ghost bikes, due to the fact that a ghost bike’s purpose is educational and awareness in addition to being a memorial.
We will never forget Chris Volpe or Jay Fretz as we continue to advocate and educate for bicycle improvements in Tempe and the region.
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