Ghost Bikes

As one of the founders, and the President of, Duke City Wheelmen, I want to let you all know our policy on the placement of ghost bikes. We place ghost bikes for people killed while cycling. Our secular organization makes no judgement on who is “worthy” of a ghost bike.

We hope that you who support ghost bikes can understand and support the placement of ghost bikes without regard to race, creed, color, nationality, gender, circumstances of their death or any other characteristic.

If someone asks, we respond.

Whatever the circumstances of the individual’s death, the person was loved and is missed. We hope that the placement of a ghost bike helps the family and friends of the fallen cyclist heal. We also hope that the ghost bikes we place help all road users remember to be attentive, alert and responsible.

Thank you,

Jennifer G. Buntz

A tragic reminder that rules matter

DCW will place a ghost bike for Ryan Hodder at 2 pm on December 7, 2015.  Corner of Broadway Boulevard &  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue NE.

From Jolene Kruger, Albuquerque Journal, November 28, 2015

He never came home.

Ryan Matthews Hodder, 29, finished his overnight shift at a Circle K at Lomas and Broadway NE and headed south around 5 a.m. on the bike his fiancée had given him as a Christmas present.

“It was blue and black,” Chas Laila Tso said. “It was pretty pricey, but it was his pride and joy, so it was worth it.”

Hodder rode that bike everywhere, taking long treks from the couple’s home near Downtown Albuquerque to the trails along the Sandia foothills and back. It was a love not shared by Tso.

“I don’t do the bike,” she said with a laugh.

And Hodder, to her concern, did not do the bike helmet.

“He had some reason, something that happened to him when he was a kid – I’m not sure,” she said. “I’d say, ‘You better safeguard yourself,’ and he’d just talk about how many times he had been hit already.”

It was as if he thought he were invincible, immortal.

On that morning, though, Tso began to worry that he might be neither.

“We were texting through the night, and everything was fine,” said Tso, who also works a night shift caring for medically fragile patients. “It takes about 15, 20 minutes to make it home, so when 5:30 came around, I started to wonder.”

At 5:45, still nothing. She texted: “Where you at?”

At 6, she called his cellphone. The call went straight to voice mail.

At 7:18, she made a final call, and then she got in her car and started heading up Broadway to the Circle K.

She didn’t have to go far.

Ryan Matthews Hodder, 29, with his beloved bike, a gift from his fiancée, Chas Laila Tso. He died riding it in August. (Courtesy of Chas Laila Tso)

At Martin Luther King and Broadway, she saw the flashing red lights, the yellow tape, the police and paramedics and the blue and black bicycle.

“I kept hoping it wasn’t him,” Tso said, her shaking voice cracking as the tears come. “But I knew.”

The crash occurred about 5:20 a.m., Albuquerque police said. A motorist had been driving east on MLK with a green light, hitting Hodder on his bike in the crosswalk.

Hodder, the spokesman said, had ridden against the “do not cross” signal. He died about two hours later, no longer invincible nor immortal.

That was Aug. 27. Today, his body remains bagged at the state Office of the Medical Investigator, as Tso and Hodder’s mother continue to struggle to raise enough money to have him cremated and in their care.

Rosie Hodder Clemons, Hodder’s mother, who lives in Grants Pass, Ore., said she hopes to have enough money – about $485 – by next month to get her son’s body cremated and released to her. It’s hard, she said, to cobble together the money because she has lupus and is on disability.

It was also hard, she said, to learn of her son’s death while scrolling through Facebook.

“It was posted, and I saw it there,” she said. “His friends were trying to contact anybody in his family.”

She had not seen Ryan in a year, but wrote him often and knew that his life was going well, which had not always been the case. New Mexico court records indicate that he had been arrested on an out-of-state felony charge in February but was soon released and the charge dismissed after that state declined to pursue extradition.

“He had some struggles, but he was good, stable,” Clemons said. “He had a good job, a good place. He had his girlfriend. He was taking care of her real well. He was just a good kid with a good heart. He didn’t deserve to die like that.”

It’s another reminder that no one is immortal, that bike helmets are crucial and the rules of the road matter.

“Signalized intersections are useful only if we obey the signals,” said Jennifer Buntz, president of the Duke City Wheelmen, which advocates for safe biking and sharing the road. “That goes for not running red lights and also not crossing in a crosswalk when you don’t have the right of way. Avoiding another senseless death is a great reward for simply obeying the signals.”

The number of cyclist deaths per capita for New Mexico was second only to that of Florida from 2010 to 2012, and 50 percent higher than the national rate, according to the state Department of Health. How many, one might wonder, were caused by a cyclist’s decision?

A ghost bike is planned to be erected at the site where Hodder was struck, a visual reminder of a life lost and a road rule not followed.

For Tso, Clemons and those who love and miss Hodder, how he died makes the pain even sharper. In some ways, though, that’s just how Hodder was – free-spirited, adventurous, artistic, outspoken, unencumbered by that which govern us mere mortals. He learned too late that he was mortal, too.

Tso and Clemons had never spoken to each other until after Hodder’s death, and though their brief relationship has been cordial it has also been spotty, with one woman or the other not able to contact the other at times. That has, in part, contributed to the delay in obtaining the body and laying it to rest.

But they agree on how much they loved Hodder. And they agree on the plan to raise enough funds to obtain his cremains, take them back to Oregon, to Mount Hood, a place Hodder loved to snowboard, where his ashes will be scattered. Only then will he be home.

More information
To donate, search “Ryan Matthews Hodder Memorial Fund” on gofundme.com or at any Wells Fargo branch under that same name.
Bernalillo County Unclaimed and Indigent Cremation Program:bernco.gov/finance/unclaimed-indigent-cremation-program.aspx
Duke City Wheelmen:dukecitywheelmen.org

DCW will accept donations via our PayPal account, or at to the ghost bike dedication.  

 2 pm on December 7, 2015.  

Corner of Broadway Boulevard &  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue NE.

You can read more from the Albuquerque Journal on traffic safety, or the lack thereof, HERE.

To all my fellow New Mexicans, please, we need to do better.

Ghost Bike Ofrenda

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This Friday, the National Hispanic Cultural Center is hosting it’s annual Community Ofrenda and Despedida evening, celebrating Dia de los Muertos. 5-7:30 pm. This free, family friendly event will be in the Dominici Education Building and on the Plaza Mayor. You can bring something to add to the community Ofrenda and tour the other Ofrendas, including the Ghost Bike Ofrenda that Duke City Wheelmen created. Look for me in DCW purple! Hope to see you there. Music and traditional refreshments will be part of the festivities too.20151016_195737

Posted by Duke City Wheelmen Foundation on Monday, October 26, 2015

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Pick up a

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No “Can You See Us NOW?” this year

After 5 years of putting on one of the most unique and fun, safe cycling advocacy rides, Duke City Wheelmen had to take a break this year.  With faltering participation and running in the red, we just couldn’t manage the costs of the ride this year.

DCW can accept donations through United Way, PayPal, cash or check.  If you want the ride back in 2016, you will have to speak with a donation!my ghostContact me through the website if you have any questions about making a donation.

Jennifer

Gotta preregister to claim yours!

Ghost Bike Refurbish Day May 30, 2015

2015-05-08 18.51.55 2015-05-08 11.58.37We’ll meet at 8:30 am at the Trek Superstore. From there, teams will go out to ghost bikes, for clean up and placing new flowers. All hands welcome!
We’ll send teams out with at least one Duke City Wheelmen member, someone with experienced working with ghost bikes.
Message me here, from the website, or our Facebook page for more information!

Can’t come, but want to help?  Use our PayPal donation button to help pay for flowers!
Donations can also be dropped off at Trek Superstore.
Please clearly mark donations for Duke City Wheelmen.Thanks,2015-05-08 11.56.41
Jennifer Buntz
President, Duke City Wheelmen

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2nd Annual Early Season Bike Swap! February 28, 2015

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Please help us make this event as successful as possible by passing this information on to people you know who might be interested.  The success of this event is directly tied to furthering Duke City Wheelmen’s outreach efforts, including what we do at Noon Day Ministries.

Queued up
To see what we do at Noon Day, come visit with us this coming Friday, February 20 between 9 am and 12:00pm.
Find out about Noon Day  and their new location, 2400 Second Street • Albuquerque, NM 87102
Duke City Wheelmen will be there, working on bikes and installing lights all morning.  A special event on 2/20 will be the presentation of a donated, refurbished bike to a long-time recipient of DCW bike related services at Noon Day.
DCW has been working on bikes at Noon Day since July of 2013!
We’ll accept donations at Noon Day on February 20th too.
Donated items may be used directly to support Noon Day clients or sold at the 2nd Annual Early Season Bike Swap to support the purchase of needed supplies.
All donations are Tax Deductible.

 

Get your Cycling Gear in Order!

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Participate! Make your voice heard: We want safer roads!!

We were 200 strong Sunday.

Thank you to all who came out in support of safer roads for every road user.

All the photos I took can be viewed here.

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Special thanks to the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s

Bike Patrol Officers who participated!


 

6th Annual

Register NOW for

“Can You See Us NOW?”

Bicycle Parade for Traffic Safety!

Who:  YOU!  This four-mile bicycle parade is something any cyclist can do.

What: This bicycle ride travels down Route 66 with full police escort at a speed slow enough for cyclists of all ages and abilities!!!

When: September 28, 2014. Bicycle Parade begins at 1:00 pm.

Rally at Tiguex Park, 2:00-3:00 pm, will include

Light refreshments

Music

Fun giveaways!

 Where: Start is from University and Coal SE, CNM campus parking by Smith Brasher Hall.

 Why:  The purpose of this bicycle parade is to bring greater awareness of cyclists on the road and increased traffic safety for all road users.

How:  Sign-up online or in person.  Preregistration at http://www.newmexicosportsonline.com/Cycling/6th-Annual-Can-You-See-Us-NOW-2014/789

The event is free, but donations are welcome to help us cover expenses.  With a donation of $5.00 or more you can complete your registration online and have no day-of paperwork.  (Electronic signatures, as per our insurance company’s requirements, are only accepted when accompanied by a financial transaction.)

If you are unable to donate at this time, it is still helpful to complete the online registration.  You will then need to stop by and complete your release before the event at the start area, University and Coal SE, from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm..

Day-of registration can also be done at the start area, University and Coal SE, from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm.

Riders will need to wear a helmet.

Costumes and bicycle “floats” welcome.


Another great event THIS weekend, September 20: www.SandiaScoot.org

 

 


Why “Can You See Us NOW?”:

  • This call for improved Traffic Safety will be heard by City and State government officials in proportion to its impact.
  • The impact of this event depends on the turnout.
  • The turnout depends on you.

Examples abound from cities and states across the U.S. on efforts aimed at improving Traffic Safety in general, with special focus on bicycle and pedestrian safety (see links below).

Here in Albuquerque though, not so much.

That is why the 6th Annual “Can You See Us NOW?”  Bicycle Parade down Route 66 is focused on Traffic Safety.

Duke City Wheelmen invites you to join us September 28, 2014 at 1:00pm to show your support for increased Traffic Safety.

Register NOW!

Safety Efforts elsewhere in the U.S.

 Los Angeles, California

Jacksonville, Florida

Boise, Idaho

Tyler, Texas

Pittsburg, Pennsylvania

 Salt Lake City, Utah

Arizona

 Colorado

Again and again in these efforts the idea that “we all just want to get where we are going safely” crops up.  And with good reason.  Who doesn’t want to be safe?

Despite the fact that NM or ABQ Government isn’t taking a lead in promoting Traffic Safety, we can take measures ourselves.  Here are four simple ways each one of us can contribute:

1)    Focus On Driving.  Put away distractions before you start the engine or pedal off.

2)    Practice Active Visual Scanning.  To see all road users in plenty of time, avoid a fixed focus only on what is directly ahead.

3)    Communicate with other road users.  Signal, wave and say thank you.  Help them understand what you will do next.

4)    Be a Predictable Driver.  You will create fewer surprises and increase your safety and the safety of others. Knowing and following traffic laws is the place to start for this one.


In the world of promoting Traffic Safety, there are the 3 E’s.

  1. Engineering
  2. Education
  3. Enforcement

The “Three E’s” are based on a simple idea that many are already familiar with; different people learn by different means.  Want to reach enough drivers to improve the overall Traffic Safety?  Use as many means as possible.

NMDOT Department of Traffic Safety has unveiled an anti-texting and driving campaign aimed to educate drivers on the new Statewide ban on texting and driving.  They have also been responsible for some motorcycle safety awareness building, but no efforts that I know of to build public consciousness about bicycle or pedestrian safety.

Bike lanes, multi-use paths and bike routes are all engineering efforts.  Some in the City are good, but as any street cyclists knows all too well, many bike lanes end at the place you need them most, at intersections!  NMDOT gives us edge-to-edge shoulder pavement in some places like Tramway Blvd and parts of NM333/Route 66 in the Tijeras Canyon region.   Sadly though, edge-to-edge paving and other infrastructure improvements are NOT the rule in New Mexico.

Except for the laudable education efforts of Chuck Malagodie and others with City of Albuquerque Parks and Recreation Department and the Esperanza Community Bicycle Shop, we have seen very little from the City of Albuquerque to promote Traffic Safety.

In fact, the City of Albuquerque has taken traffic law enforcement off the table for the Albuquerque Police Department.

“The number one goal for the Albuquerque Police Department is crime prevention and we really want them working on that, traffic issues, we’d rather work with,” said Michael Riordan, acting director of the city’s Municipal Development Department. “There’s 3 E’s: engineering, education and enforcement, and we’re trying to do as much engineering as we can to limit what they have to do. APD has 19 officers devoted to traffic.”

That was as of a year ago, August 2013.  I’m told that now, August 2014, the Traffic Division of APD has 12 officers.

Although Traffic Safety does receive some attention from City and State officials, it isn’t enough.  Right NOW, traffic safety needs YOU!

Register NOW!!


Imagine if everyone concerned about traffic safety and the safety of cyclists rode together on September 28…

You, your friends and family, multiplied by the thousands….

Think about the statement that would make…

Do you want our City policy makers to take traffic and cyclist safety more seriously?  Come SHOW your concern.

Without YOU, this success of this event won’t be what it should be.

You can sign-up today, right NOW in fact.

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Separate and UNEQUAL

In April and again in June people using multi-use paths in Santa Fe that cross Rail Runner tracks rode out into the path of an oncoming train.  These two individuals died.  These multi-use paths have no safety arms or warning lights of their own.

On the other hand, people using city streets in Santa Fe while (typically) driving motor vehicles, encounter warning lights and arms specifically designed to stop them from driving into the path of the very same trains.

No one questions the presence of these safety devices on streets or highways.  Departments of Transportation across the country realize that people need help in avoiding these collisions.  Rail Runner/street crossings that don’t have arms or warning lights have been sites of motor vehicle/train crashes elsewhere in the State (between Los Lunas and Belen).  Pedestrians have been killed at other unmarked crossings in Bernalillo County.

When considering multi-use paths, it isn’t accurate to think only cyclists use them.  Path users routinely include children, elderly, disabled people, or those without the means or inclination to drive a motor vehicle.  They also include those crazy enough to exercise outdoors – cyclists, runners, walkers, roller bladers, etc.

Are any of us really comfortable saying that this diversity of path users should be held to a higher personal standard for their safety at a track crossing compared to motor vehicle drivers?  Said another way;

Why not protect all road and path users equally?

A website devoted to train track crossing safety posted A motorist is almost 20 times more likely to die in a crash involving a train than in a collision involving another motor vehicle.   Comfortably, I’ll say that the likelihood of a path user dying from being hit by a train is even higher.

These crashes are always difficult to understand.  What are people thinking?  How can they not see or hear the train?  Both the recent victims of bicycle/train collisions lived in Santa Fe.  How could they not know about the trains!?

You might think that the closer we are to home the more familiar we are with potential hazards, like on-coming trains, and the better we would be at avoiding those hazards.  If you do think that, think again.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) at U.S. DOT:

Three out of four crashes occur within 25 miles of a motorist’s home.  Fifty percent of all crashes occur within five miles of home.

What this says to me is that people are, well, people.  We make mistakes.  We get comfortable with what is the most familiar and sometimes that lets us drop our guard.  While this can be a good thing in an interpersonal relationship, it isn’t so good with respect to traffic safety.

As people, we are all quite susceptible to falling into that zoned out, less observant state of mind.  I feel that equal protection from our own potential foibles is in order, no matter how we choose to be mobile on a given day.

I just can’t advocate for separate but unequal.