About a week and a half ago I was sitting in my living room ogling over my bikes. I had just gotten home from my friend, Johnny's, house. He was generous enough to kick down some bike parts he had been collecting, and wasn't using. Sitting in front of an aluminum road frame I hope to build(if I ever make the time) I heard the screech of car tires.
As many folks know, Visual Resistance started the NYC Ghost Bike project, so the first thing that flashed thru my head was, "holy shit, there's going to be a ghost bike in front of my house."
Impulsively I grabbed my camera, ran downstairs to document what happened. For me photographing an event like this comes from a sense that a "victim" may need visual documentation of injuries, location, license plates, police officer's identification, etc. It's less of the sick voyeur or objective documentor.
When I got outside there was already a crowd around the intersection and some people above the body on the ground. I still thought he was dead. Thankfully a bystander knew how to handle trauma situations and coordinated people until the ambulance came.
Coincidentally, waiting on the corner was a friend of the cyclist who had just been struck. The two were to meet up at this intersection and then go work on their bikes. Instead he took a car service to the emergency room where his friend, Shino, was treated for head injuries, broken bones, and gashes.
The driver, who thankfully stopped, was arrested for a suspended license. Its strange, for me, because I had empathy for him too. He was clearly remorsful and upset about what happened. When I was taking photographs, he was standing there too. He had seen the pool of blood below the cyclists head, the shoes that were ripped off his feet from impact, and the destroyed BMX bike. With all of my hatred and frustration with car culture, in this instance I couldn't blame this driver. I hold him accountable for being the cause of this accident. Although I wasn't as angry as I envision myself to react.
Drivers infuriate me. Cars parked in bike lanes, double parked on narrow streets, drivers distracted, talking on cellphones, aggressive maneuvers to go around other cars and cyclists, piss me off. Driving while intoxicated, and the deaths that have occured are unexcusable. What I'm conflicted with is how to hold people accountable. In accidents regarding bicyclists, the city government virtually ignores the rights of a cyclist. Rarely are motorists charged or convicted of wrongdoing. Sending people to jail, for accidents, doesn't appear to be a solution, to me, in most situtations. It may acknowledge the humanity of the particular cyclist, but not the greater attitude of motorists toward bikes.
One of the things I hope the Ghost Bike Project, with the memorial rides, is capable of doing, is create a greater consciousness of cyclists. Of the right to ride bikes on NYC streets, that they are entitled to space on the street. That motorists need to share that space, and the City needs to provide more infrastructure to ensure the safety of those that choose to ride a bicycle.
Off the soapbox now.
The day after getting out of the hospital, Shino called me. He heard that I had taken pictures and he'd like to get them. He wanted to write a story about the accident for his
Upon seeing him I couldn't help but think he was a ghost. His eye blood-red and a brace on his wrist. He was going for surgery the next day. I gave him the disc of fotos and told him I was grateful there was no need for a white bicycle at the intersection. He agreed.
You can check out his story "Life is Twisted" with the photos at Grindstate. The site layout may be a bit confusing for some, so fool around a bit. Its the first story up there.
Last, I want to ask everyone that drives a car, "look out for cyclists!"
Colin Matthes recently completed a mural for Milwaukee's IN:SITE temporary public art program. The mural is titled "Everyday Transactions: The Familiar Inconceivable". The mural draws upon elements of the everyday, and reflects much of what occurs- business, warfare, and leisure. Water plays an important role in this mural. Water simultaneously connects us and divides the space. With talk of global warming, tropical storms, and the increasing scarcity of water in poor countries we are asked to question our relationship to water, as well as our relationship to each other in the world around us.
IN:SITE has been providing resources and opportunities to create temporary public art in Milwaukee since the fall of 2006. In that time a number of wonderful projects have been created such as:
This most recent round of projects also includes:
•“Phyto Remedy” by Benjamin Martinkus
•“Through 30 Steps Backward” by Mike Genovese
•“Flight” by Darryl Jensen
•“Urban Radio Network” by Bridget Quinn and Jessica Vandevort
•“PARK(ing)” by Rosheen Styczinski
and many more...
For more information on the current round of IN:SITE projects, to view the archive of past projects, or to find out how to get involved in the program please visit the IN:SITE website at http://www.insitemilwaukee.org.
Chris Stain, Billy Mode & Josh MacPhee
Opening: Friday, May 11, 6-10pm
Show runs May 11 --- June 3, 2007
49 Bogart St, Bushwick, Brooklyn