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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
1:28 PM Sat, Sept. 22nd

Editorial: Thoughts on roadside memorials

Lisa Zander locks up the “ghost bike” after over 100 bicyclists participated in a memorial ride for Amber “Cricket” Harrington from Prescott College to the intersection of Copper Basin and White Spar Road where Harrington died. At the intersection a “ghost bike” was placed to remember Harrington.

Photo by Les Stukenberg.

Lisa Zander locks up the “ghost bike” after over 100 bicyclists participated in a memorial ride for Amber “Cricket” Harrington from Prescott College to the intersection of Copper Basin and White Spar Road where Harrington died. At the intersection a “ghost bike” was placed to remember Harrington.

Roadside memorials either touch your heart or make you mad. Like everything else, everyone has an opinion.

The Arizona Department of Transportation got hit with many, many of those opinions after they decided to remove the memorials from state roads over the last few weeks.

There were so many opinions in fact that ADOT is reconsidering their roadside memorial removal policy.

John Halikowski, director of the Arizona Department of Transportation, offered the following statement Wednesday on memorials placed along state highways:

“ADOT recognizes the need for loved ones to grieve for those killed in crashes and that some choose to do so through memorials placed along roadsides.

“Our job is to serve the public and to listen to the public. In response to these very genuine concerns, we are reevaluating our policy and procedures with a goal of providing an opportunity for those who wish to express their grief and preserving memorials that do not present a safety hazard.”

Kudos to ADOT for seeing this isn’t a black and white issue. It’s rare for a government agency to reconsider policies, but someone at ADOT has a heart and they’re using it.

Prescott recently went through a scuffle over the roadside memorial to bicyclist Amber Harrington. It was taken down and then returned. Some residents were upset, some were thankful.

There are a lot of these memorials scattered throughout Yavapai County – bicycle wheels, crosses, motorcycle helmets, steering wheels, boots, etc.

Besides offering a chance to grieve, these memorials can give us some food for thought as we roar past them.

Families and friends of the deceased often say they hope the memorial raises awareness of drunk driving, distracted driving, road rules, safety and more.

I think everyone can coexist with memorials if the creations are off the road, not dangerous and are being looked after.

The folks who put them up need to take the responsibility for the upkeep. If you want to erect a memorial, talk to your local officials first. Find out what’s allowed and where it is allowed. Some areas have no guidance for such memorials, so use common sense and keep them out of the roadway and off the shoulder.