City Desk

Alice Swanson’s Family Made a New Memorial


Anna Shoup emailed City Paper with news that Alice Swanson's aunt was at the intersection of Connecticut and R streets NW today, where she replaced her niece's memorial ghost bike (which the Department of Public Works removed on Friday) with flowers and a hand-written sign that reads, "Why has the mayor taken the bike?"

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  • Truth Hurts

    Good for Swanson's aunt. Anyone think she'll receive a response? I'm betting Fenty tries to make things right.

  • Angry Al Gonzales

    Swanson's aunt is today's hero. & TH is right - Fenty will be here in a press conference on Tuesday to smooth things over & to get some TV time. Fenty's got a triathlon in two weeks, so he's got to keep moving.

  • Anonyme

    I'm a cyclist who works in the Dupont Circle neighborhood so I was touched by the memorial. I too have lost close friends in bike accidents.

    Pictures of the memorial live on at my conceptual art website: See for example:

  • Brandon Green

    This fight is one the mayor's not going to win.

  • Jim

    I am sensitive to the issue but the old memorial was a pedestrian hazard. Wouldn't a placque paid for by the city's Bicycle Coordinator be a better tribute?

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  • t. thomas

    Sorry, I'm just not of the opinion that a makeshift memorial should stay up forever. That bike had been there for more than a year. It was time for it to come down.

  • Miila

    Sorry, again, but I'm not a fan of road side memorials at all. That's what cemetarys are for. Or at least put the memorial where the family buried her. I think, not just this one but all road side memorials should be removed asap. I've drove and walked past some that have full size cemetary reefs. It's just getting ridiculous around the city ang PG County. Enough already.

  • Another Jim

    It was long past time for the ghost bike to be taken down. While the ghose bike was a relatively tasteful memorial, there are plenty of garish ones that the city takes down regularly all over town. Exeptions shouldn't be made just because a family makes a fuss.

    To some, myself included, it seems like this one is getting so much attention because it was for a white woman.

  • a dupont girl

    a fuss? over the loss of a loved one? i'm not sure that exits. the bike was *not* in the way, and it was a gentle reminder to everyone that passed to be more careful and aware as then went about their day.

    and as far is it being for a "white woman" - i PROMISE you, that has nothing to do with it. a lot of people lost a very important person in their lives that day - THAT is what the attention is for.

  • Another Jim

    Are there ghost bikes up in D.C. for anyone else?

  • a dupont girl

    i think you're missing the point. it's not about the other bikes. it's about THIS bike and THIS person. as it is your right to wish the bike to be removed, it is just as much everyone else's right to want it to remain where it's been. alice's family and friends are looking to remember her and make others aware of what can happen on the city streets. sadly, alice and those who cared for her had to learn that lesson in the worst possible of ways. honestly, if the city won't allow the bike, that's okay, but do something else - it's important. removing the bike doesn't remove what happened, and it certainly doesn't help raise awareness.

  • Another Jim

    As someone who rides a bike in the city, I’m all for raising awareness. However, if people think there should be a permanent memorial, then go through the proper channels and try to make it happen. You can’t just chain a bike to a post and expect the city to allow it to be there forever when they so often take down other homemade memorials.

    It shouldn’t be allowed to stay up because it sets a bad precedent.

  • Alice’s friend

    Keep in mind that the ghost bike was about bike safety, not just the death of Alice. I wonder if the people who have posted comments saying to keep it down have ever walked past this bike. Every time I'm down there someone strikes up a conversation, about someone they lost, about being a biker or a car driver in this city, or just about life and death. It's a striking experience.

    I wish it was still there so you could have it. Maybe that would change your opinion about its value.

    Be safe.

  • t. thomas

    I have seen it and I was moved by it, but I ceased to be moved anymore many months ago. I have also walked past teddy bears duct taped to lightposts from where children were murdered. The city doesn't allow those to stay up for as long as this bike had been there. It doesn't seem right to allow one and not the other. And we can't have a city overrun with makeshift memorials for everyone that accidentally dies in D.C.

    It was time for the ghost bike to go.

  • Curious

    Has anyone spoken to the other business owners in the area to see what they thought about it? Does it matter what they think?

    Fair point on the teddy bears, T. Thomas. Anyone know if there's a city regulation on memorials that aren't granite or bronze?

  • Dave

    I've walked past this bike hundreds of times, and I can't say I once ever heard it start a philosophical conversation about life & death or a discussion on traffic or bicycle safety. I really am sorry you lost a friend, and I agree the city could have been more sensitive about its removal, but we have all lost friends & family members; to expect a makeshift sidewalk memorial to remain forever is not realistic....even if it is also supposed to symbolize something else to some people. What I propose is that one of the people who want the ghost bike to remain visible for people to see and be reminded of traffic & bike safety....put it in your yard or in front of your house. This way it can remain as the symbol you say it represents. There....problem solved!

  • candycane1

    One turn deserves another. Will someone please remove Fenty's name from the Tubman field and replace it with Tubman?

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  • biker

    One bike is cool. I liked it. It reminded me to watch my ass or I could be a white bike. Having you picture taken for doing this is just fucking wrong. I bet his fixie has brakes. Where is he getting all these bikes? I'm sure lots of people would like a bike to ride around. What if we painted them neon and just let anyone that needed a bike ride it around for free. Then when your done just leave it for the next person to ride to where they go. 100 more bikes on the street in traffic would be better then 22 bikes that have been made into junk.