City Paper is not for tourists
The ghost bike memorializing cyclist Alice Swanson has been removed. Swanson was killed at the intersection of Connecticut Avenue and R Street NW on July 8, 2008. The snow-white bike had remained there since shortly after the tragedy. She was hit by a trash truck while she was riding her bicycle to work.
The bike’s removal came in response to complaints from Dupont Circle business owners, according to both Anna Shoup, Swanson’s roommate, and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association.
“WABA called me this morning to say that the mayor’s office had taken down her ghost bike, pretty much without giving her family and friends time to put together any sort of response,” said Shoup. Ghost bikes are supposed to remain in place in perpetuity.
According to Shoup, WABA was able to locate the bike today and confirmed to her that the removal had been ordered by the city. Shoup contacted Swanson’s parents today, and learned that they had not heard from the city prior to the removal.
“When we were informed of the decision to remove the bike, we requested some additional time to contact the family to see what their wishes were,” said Eric Gilliland, WABA’s executive director.
The city told WABA it would until to Monday to act, but this morning, Gilliland found that “the lock had been cut and the bike was removed.”
“We were initially told that the Department of Public Works left the bike at La Tomate, but we ended up finding it at Cosi,” he added. Both restaurants are located close to the memorial, and Gilliland said neither had complained to the city or asked to have it removed.
When asked if Swanson’s family or friends had plans for a new memorial, Shoup said, “We were working on the assumption, perhaps very naively that the ghost bike would remain up as it has in many cities across the country.”
Photo by Darrow Montgomery.