Pseudo Ghost – showing Rob some love

I left this sign on Rob’s commute last week. Rob’s not dead, it’s a fading ghost bike, notice the black stripes?  Rob’s been driving the last couple months which is the reason we haven’t heard his voice as much. He had 3 close calls with wheeled steel cages over the course of a week which prompted him to put insurance back on his car.

I had lunch with him last week and we can relax, he fully intends to get back on the bike.  I was worried, if Rob can’t stick it out on the bike, how can any of us stick it out. Rob assured me that since the bad week life just got busy.  He’s also got an interesting ‘non bike’ story to share once the dust settles.

We’ve all been there. What would be your advice to Rob as he contemplates a return to commuting by bicycle.

Pseudo Ghost bike for Rob

14 thoughts on “Pseudo Ghost – showing Rob some love

  1. At the risk of pooping on your party, I’m not sure this is such a good idea. I’m all for encouraging Rob back on his bike, but I worry that people driving by will not notice the stripes on the ghost bike and think this is an actual full-fledged ghost bike.
    I don’t know if Rob was actually hit at this location (but I don’t remember him mentioning it), but as you say, he wasn’t killed there. A nigh-ghost bike combined with a big sign saying “RIP ROB” more than hints that he was.
    I’d suggest taking the bike down, for fear that it will dilute the impact and message that the real ghost bikes send.

    I’m supposed to be using this space for advice for Rob, but I’m not sure I can – I haven’t biked to work in about a decade. Ummm… Rob, the route over the train tracks and through RIM’s parking lot can get you close to Albert while avoiding car-laden Bearinger. (But I’m not sure that you take Bearinger. We’ll talk.)

  2. Rachel McAdams gave up riding her bike after constantly having close calls with TTC buses. Fortunately some time in NYC got her back on her bike.

    I’ve only ever had one close call where I truly felt my life was in danger. I suppose it’s easier for myself to get back on a bike as my alternatives are transit or walking.

    Too bad a mixture of bad motorists and poor infrastructure force people off of bikes.

  3. That was a tough week. All the incidents happened on a stretch of road that has always given me the willies. The unfortunate thing is that there aren’t many alternatives to the main arterial routes when you’re crossing subdivision boundaries, especially near the expressway.

    There’s always the sidewalks, but soon, the city maintained sidewalks will become impassable and will remain that way until spring (or such is my experience from last year).

    I might be wrong, but two of the three close calls were motorists who felt that I needed to be taught a lesson. I’m sure you all know the types. Like Graham’s bus driver. I don’t particularly want to share the road with those assholes.

  4. You still share the road with those same assholes when you drive… and I can say in the last 8 weeks while I was commuting to Hamilton for school that I had a number of close calls in my car so I’ve picked up some local work for the next little bit so I don’t have to drive… too much stress for me.

    1. Trying my hardest not to sound like a die hard car lover….

      I hear what you’re saying, but at the same time if some prick feels the need to ‘teach a lesson’ to me I’d rather be wearing my car.

  5. and I’d also add that I think that putting a ghost bike for someone that hasn’t died is a bit tacky at the least.

  6. If you must put up a fake ghost bike, at least try to make it not hang over the roadway. Maybe it’s just the perspective of the photo, but it looks like that’s the case here.

    Preferably, don’t put up fake ghost bikes a.k.a. litter.

  7. I think that putting up a ghost bike in a situation not involving a death or very serious injury takes away from their actual meaning and the impact they can have. If there were random ghost bikes all over the place I think some of the impact would be lost, at least once the general public figures out it doesn’t represent anything anymore.

    I understand the intentions behind this were good, but I hope you rethink it if the bike is still there.

    I got hit by a car a few months ago and luckily my injuries have mostly healed up and I’m back on the bike. I feel very luck to say that I don’t deserve a ghost bike, and neither does Rob.

  8. Rob, some advice from a bicycle commuter advocate… and currently injured cycle commuter… get back on the bike. When people see you regularly, they become accustomed to you and make it safer for you and other’s.

    First… get a safety vest and wear it when riding.
    Second… lights! BRIGHT lights… make sure they work and use them. As is the law for driving cars, have them on 1/2 hour before sunset and after sunrise. You become much more noticeable in those situations. Any time lighting is poor have the lights on.
    Third… drive your bike like a car. Notice I didn’t say ride your bike… I mean DRIVE your bike. You ARE a vehicle on the road and if you expect to be treated as one, then you must act like one.

    Take the lane! Not just 1′ from the curb but 3 FEET minimum from the curb… or parked vehicle. This is the law… and in my experience is the safest way to ride. Vehicles approaching you from behind see you easier… and must THINK about passing you safely. They can’t just squeeze by you. Vehicles coming towards you, also see you better as you’re not hiding among parked vehicles or road side signs. They see you as another vehicle.

    Sure this sounds hazardous, but in the time since I adopted this riding method, the close calls and scary situations have become further and further apart. Yes, it’s good to find quieter streets, but there are times when you can’t do that. That’s when you MUST become a vehicle and demand your right to be there.

    Ride safe… and I wish I wasn’t injured so I could still be on the roads too.

    1. I can assure you that I was doing everything right in 2/3 cases (the 3rd was my fault, but still close).

      I was taking the lane, it was broad daylight, there was a second travel lane for the motorist to use to pass if he chose. It all adds up to malice.

      Here’s a case where I would have been better off on the sidewalk without a doubt. Barring that, hug the curb so as not to anger up the motorists blood.

  9. I realized after looking at the photograph that the execution of this idea was a bit lacking. The bike looked too much like a real ghost bike, the black stripes were too thin to be noticed and the sign was definitely misleading. I ran out of room on my paper and needed to shorten the sign using my twitter skills … didn’t quite have the desired effect.

    This project was a race against time and I decided to ship it (seth godin style) rather than perfect it.

    A few folks seem to indicate that a ghost bike should not be used for the living … perhaps this is where I kind of disagree. To often a life is celebrated, but only after it’s too late.

    We also need sobering reminders to our motorists (and cyclists) about the impact of our behaviours on the road before we’re faced with dire consequences.

    And another part of me loves protest-pranks. The ones highlighted recently by urbancountry were mint:
    http://www.theurbancountry.com/2011/12/torontos-urban-repair-squad-strikes.html
    http://www.theurbancountry.com/2011/11/trashy-bike-lane.html

  10. G – Was this bike left out on Lexington Road? If so, that stretch is along my commute now, and I remember seeing this back before Christmas. That piece of road sucks, it is true.

    I have conflicted feelings on this now that I think your post has solved a mystery for me. I’m happy no one’s dead. I’m also happy for myself that no one died on a stretch I was riding constantly before Christmas. But, I didn’t notice the stripes or even read the words. I seriously thought someone died along my commute. Couldn’t find anything on the ‘net about an accident, though…

    I’m with Blair on this one. There’s some room to misinterpret the faux-ghost bike – kinda upsetting.

    1. I hear you Paul :)
      I still like the idea, but the execution was poor. I’d do it again, but I’d stay away from using white … maybe go with yellow.

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