2013 was a good year for Anchorage. There were no bicycle fatalities. Unfortunately, at the start of 2014, a long-time commuter, Eldridge Griffith, was stuck and killed by a motorist. This tragedy strikes all of us at our core. And serves as a stark and solemn reminder that what BCA is about and what we are striving for in Anchorage are important to everyone in this city. With any tragedy like this, the effects are felt across the community. Family and friends’ lives are changed. Someone dear to them is gone. And no words can really serve to address the pain and loss. For those that don’t know Mr. Griffith, the loss is a tear in the tight fabric that is the Anchorage bicycling community. BCA was created in 2008 with the mission of making Anchorage more bicycle-friendly. Our vision is a city where it is safe, convenient and desirable to go by bike. We know we have a lot of work to do. We also know that much has been accomplished to date. The city is changing, and moving in the right direction. Although, admittedly not at the rate any of us would like to see. BCA will continue, with hearts saddened by this tragic loss, to work to make Anchorage safer for everyone. With this tragedy, BCA takes time to reflect on Anchorage as a bicycle-city. BCA encourages everyone, motorist and bicyclist alike, to drive or bike with attention. Often in circumstances like this, people comment about why bicyclists are even out on the roads. But we are not “cyclists” or “bicyclists.” We are citizens of Anchorage, who choose to go by bike. Many of us are as much “motorists” as we are “bicyclists.” And all of us have friends and family waiting for us to come home, no matter how we get there. Just as motorists have a home to get to so do bicyclists. So for motorists, please recognize that that person in front of you on a bike isn’t a “cyclist.” They are just another citizen of Anchorage trying to get home, just like you, to see their loved ones, just like you. Those few seconds you may save by driving fast or quickly passing a bicyclist aren’t worth it. Please be patient and share the road. For bicyclists, be attentive, be visible and be predictable.
When a bicyclist is killed, often “ghost bikes” appear to serve as a solemn memorial and to remind everyone to safely share the road. In this instance, at the request of Mr. Griffith’s family, we ask that anyone who had the good intentions of placing a ghost bike at the scene refrain from doing so. The family is appreciative of the thought but it is too much to bear to see this ghostly reminder on a daily basis.
For the bicycling community, there will be a vigil at 2:00pm at the Chalet. We are asking bicyclists to show up a bit before 2:00pm and line up outside the window overlooking the hill. Have your bike with you and bring a candle and light it t 2:00pm. For 5 minutes we will stand in a line offering a moment of silence. Afterwards, bicyclists are welcome to come into the Chalet and celebrate Eldridge Griffith’s life.
With sadness and heavy heart,
Bicycle Commuters of Anchorage