Originally Published: April 29, 2015 6 a.m.
Everyone in Prescott should be proud that we're a bike-friendly city. Some might say that a good measure of whether bicyclists are welcome on the streets of any city is how we memorialize those killed on our roads. Do we lift up and celebrate their memory, or sweep it under the rug?
Amber "Cricket" Harrington died on Jan. 16, 2015, at the intersection of White Spar Road and Copper Basin Road, when a man driving a pickup truck hit her from behind. Representing the best of Prescott's motto "Everybody's Hometown," more than 100 people showed up for a group ride to celebrate Amber's life, arriving at the spot where she was killed to install a memorial - a "ghost bike."
A ghost bike is simply an old bicycle that is painted white and locked to a signpost near the site of a fatal accident. Increasingly popular around the country, ghost bikes serve not only as memorials to the dead, but as reminders for the living. For drivers: "Be careful - watch for bikes," and for cyclists: "Look out for car and truck drivers who might not see you."
Ghost bikes are also intended to be permanent. For members of the bicycling community, they are sacred. Like a headstone at a gravesite, they often bear the name of the deceased rider, and the date of their passing.
As sad as it is to see a ghost bike anywhere, such a sight also lets passersby know that the community truly respects and welcomes bicyclists - by establishing a collective memory of those who have died in the saddle, rather than hiding the fact that, even in bike-friendly places like Prescott, cyclists die on our roads.
This week, just three months after Amber's friends and family chained her ghost bike to a green "bike route" sign, it was removed.
It's unlikely that her people decided that three months was enough for her memorial, but the timing of its removal - just a few days before thousands of out-of-town cyclists will be riding through Prescott for the annual Whiskey Off-Road - leaves me wondering whether Prescott's love for bicyclists extends to those we've lost, or merely to those who temporarily bring in precious tourist dollars.