State removes stencil memorial to cyclist killed in North Portland wreck
Posted by The Oregonian December 07, 2007 10:58AM
Categories: Breaking News, Portland
After Portland cyclist Brett Jarolimek was struck and killed by a car in October near the intersection of North Interstate and Greeley, someone quickly memorialized the cyclist with a detailed stencil on a nearby bridge underpass.
For about a month, the stencil, which depicts the cyclist on a ride, remained alongside a white ghost bike. (ghost bike: http://ghostbike.org/ )
Jonathan Maus, www.bikeportland.org
Stencil of Brett Jarolimek
But on Wednesday the Oregon Department of Transportation employee assigned to clean up graffiti from ODOT property erased the Jarolimek stencil.
Mike Mason, a spokesman for ODOT, said the decision to remove the stencil was a difficult one. It's considered graffiti even though it served as a memorial. And graffiti tends to attract more graffiti and can distract drivers. He said ODOT maintenance crews decided to leave the stencil for a month before painting it over.
"It's not a black and white issue," he said. "We struggle with issues like this frankly."
Word that the stencil had been removed first broke on bikeportland, Jonathan Maus' popular bike blog, where more than two dozen cyclists have weighed in on the news.
Wrote one: "Up until a few years ago, I would have understood this. But now I see so many crosses on roadsides to remember those who died in car accidents that are left untouched by various transportation departments. It somehow smacks of the view that the life of a dead cyclist was somehow worth less than that of a dead motorist."
Mason said maintenance crews talked about removing it when it first appeared but decided to wait out of respect to the cyclist and his family. The crews, he said, "knew at some point they would have to take it down per our policy. What we thought was a fair balance was to leave it up for about a month but also to leave up the ghost bike."
About nine or 10 ghost bikes dot the city where cyclists have been killed, Maus said. He said typically someone is designated to care for the ghost bike and make sure the flowers are fresh. He said they can stay up months or longer as long as someone keeps an eye on them.