Today marks two years since 22-year-old cyclist Alice Swanson was struck and killed by a trash truck at the corner of Connecticut Avenue and R Street in Dupont Circle. Shortly after Swanson’s death, a memorial “ghost bike” appeared at the corner. The memorial remained in place, often adorned with flowers or notes, until last August. At the behest of the Dupont Circle Merchants and Professionals Association the memorial was removed by the city.
This morning, Swanson’s friends and family placed mementos at the site of the accident, and chalked messages on the sidewalk. This afternoon, the ghost bike memorial was replaced. Twitter user @victorzapanta sent along a photo of the new memorial.
The previous bike was removed by the Department of Public Works following a request by the Mayor’s office. The original request came from Ed Grandis of DC MAP, who characterized the well-kept memorial as an eye sore. Most street memorials in the District are left in place for 30 days before removal by DPW. These are generally memorials of photographs, flowers and/or stuffed animals. The District Department of Transportation has a policy of removing abandoned bicycles, but only after leaving a notice on the bicycle first.
In any event, a ghost bike is a solemn reminder to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians that all must share the road. Last year the District debated constructing a memorial tree box at the location, but eventually declined to pursue that course of action. It will be interesting to see how the city reacts to the replacement of the ghost bike.