Last week I went to Portland, OR for a couple of reasons. One of these reasons was to do some shooting for my ghost bike project. According to GhostBikes.org there were supposed to be 20 ghost bikes installed in or around the Portland area. I expected that I would not find them all, because previous ghost bike hunting experience has taught me that often, the bikes are no longer where they are supposed to. So I went with the hopes of finding 10.
My first day in Porland, I managed to find 3. One of which wasn't even listed on the ghost bike site. We sought out 16 that day. So out of 16 bikes that were supposed to be there, 14 of them were missing. I found this to be incredibly disheartening, but also very strange. Portland is supposed to be one of the most bicycle progressive cities in the country. Why would such a high percentage of ghost bikes be gone? Was the city removing them? What was going on?
That night I did a little research to find out what was going on. What I discovered broke my heart. People were stealing them!!!! I know that times are hard, but really? Stealing ghost bikes.
See for yourself:
Bike Portland Update
Oregon live blog
I was hopeful when I found this story: Ghost bikes, bike awards and map. Apparently a troupe of boy scouts took it upon themselves to install a bunch of ghost bikes in the Beaverton area. They did this in the middle of May 2011. Surely, some of them would still be there. In the morning, I tried to get in touch with the boy scout troupe, and some other bicycle organizations to try and find out the location of these bicycles. Nobody got back to me, but I was able to figure out where the one in the picture on the article should be. I set out to find the bikes that were West of Portland.
The Ghost bike that the boy scout troupe installed, after a month and a half, was gone. Seriously? Some stupid thief couldn't leave it there for a few months? What is the world coming to. I continued further west, hoping to find one of the other two bikes that were supposed to be out that way. But to no avail. One spot had numerous memorials put up. (It is obviously a dangerous intersection); but, no ghost bike.
I had all but given up, when I found out that my uncle lived near one and told my step father about it. They said they drove by it that morning, and it was still there. So the next morning, my last day in Portland, I decided to try and find the one that was way out East in Gresham, and the one down south in Millaukee.
The one in Gresham was no longer there. Obviously, some one had stolen it. It had been replaced with a cross and a picture of the woman who died. The other one was still there. It was for a little girl that died on 10/10/10. Out of a total of 22 bikes that were found or were supposed to be there, only 4 of them were actually there. Two of them were adorned with many decorations, perhaps discouraging the thieving community in Portland, and two of them were small children's bikes, which of course would be way too small for the average thief. All in all, pretty sad.