February 27, 2024

Boston’s ghost bicycle tradition depends on lone gentleman, who’s transformed one much more to honor Clemmer

Peter Cheung with George Clemmer’s ghost bike. (Photo: Emily Piper-Vallillo) A ghost bicycle ceremony requires…

Boston’s ghost bicycle tradition depends on lone gentleman, who’s transformed one much more to honor Clemmer

Peter Cheung with George Clemmer’s ghost bike. (Photo: Emily Piper-Vallillo)

A ghost bicycle ceremony requires spot Saturday in Boston to honor Cambridge’s George Clemmer, who was hit by the driver of a dump truck July 13 at Huntington and Massachusetts avenues, in the shadow of Symphony Corridor. He was taken to a medical center, in which he died.

There are no protected biking lanes on the extend of Massachusetts Avenue the place Clemmer was hit, though they have been regarded as as element of a Symphony Station enhancement challenge.

Previous them will be a ghost bike, a roadside memorial marking in which a bike owner was killed, typically by the driver of a motor car or truck. They are stark white memorials to be chained eternally to the spot of a loss of life – this just one a formerly maroon model from the nonprofit Bikes Not Bombs. It is stripped of its brakes, grips, cables, gears – something that rusts speedily or could be stolen – and spray painted. By now the maker, Peter Cheung, has it down to a science.

Clemmer was the 18th human being killed in the earlier 10 years whilst biking in Boston, Cambridge and Somerville, in accordance to information from MassBike and other protection advocates. 9 of these crashes associated a truck, and 5 occurred together a extend of Massachusetts Avenue.

Cheung prepares to paint a maroon bike July 20 in Jamaica Basic. (Photograph: Emily Piper-Vallillo)

Clemmer’s buddies and spouse and children describe the 71-yr-old as unquenchably curious, good and environmentally minded. On most times, he biked a 12-mile-loop from his dwelling in Cambridgeport to Jamaica Simple and again. He rode a recumbent bicycle, which sites the rider in a reclined situation, for the reason that it felt much more comfy for his commute to Harvard Clinical Faculty, in which he worked as a bioinformatician.

“He beloved that bicycle,” close good friend Robin Peters reported.

With levels in naval architecture, electrical engineering and small business from MIT, he worked on an array of initiatives all through his life, from renovating wooden boats to producing a significant-tech lamp.

“He had a whole lot of passions,” Peters mentioned, “but he was a rather solitary man or woman. He did take pleasure in biking. He felt it gave him electrical power.”

Connecting with the artist

When Peters acquired of Clemmer’s passing, she understood she wished him to have a ghost bicycle.

“I bear in mind observing these bikes and contemplating it was an exciting art set up in Boston,” she stated. “It was George who explained to me that they are memorials for people today killed on bicycles.”

By friends, she connected with Cheung, a Jamaica Plain bike advocate identified for leading occasions these kinds of as the Boston Bike Social gathering and the Ride for Black Lives, and using his competencies as a videographer to document freshly installed bike lanes. In 2020, he was identified as MassBike’s Advocate of the Year.

He is also the maker of most of the ghost bikes in the Boston region.

“It’s my contribution to public art,” he said. “It’s a way to turn a tragic region in which something violent has happened into some thing a lot more serene.”

A “one-time thing”

The Rev. Laura Everett qualified prospects a ghost bike devotion in memory of bicyclist Darryl Willis on Sept. 19, 2020, in Harvard Sq.. (Image: Greg Cook dinner by way of gregcookland.com/wonderland)

The initially ghost bike Cheung designed was for another Cambridge resident – 65-12 months-old Marcia Deihl – who was strike by a truck in 2015 although leaving a Entire Meals Marketplace parking ton. Cheung had heard about ghost bikes, a ritual that began in 2003 in St. Louis when Patrick Van Der Tuin noticed a automobile drift more than the line of a bike lane and into a woman. He put a white bicycle wherever she was pretty much killed to remind individuals of what experienced happened. The ceremonies are now observed nationwide.

Soon after Deihl was killed, Cheung developed a personal Fb group to hook up with other cyclists, such as the Rev. Laura Everett, executive director of the Massachusetts Council of Church buildings, who agreed to preside over Deihl’s ceremony.

He assumed it would be a a single-time point.

But a few months afterwards, on Massachusetts Avenue, a truck driver killed Anita Kurrman, a 38-calendar year-old endocrinologist, on her way to operate. A 12 months following that, Amanda Phillips was killed in Inman Square.

“A very sacred moment”

Cheung paints George Clemmer’s ghost bike July 20. (Image: Emily Piper-Vallillo)

More than the a long time, Cheung and Everett have come to be ever more arranged. They created a ceremony outline and a ghost bicycle ceremony checklist that incorporates a record of instructed elements such as tea lights, a microphone and tissues. They have develop into so adept at these ceremonies that cyclists from other city centers have arrived at out for advice on how to keep their have ghost bicycle ceremonies.

But the get the job done can be taxing. In the course of the pandemic, Cheung built six ghost bikes, holding largely tiny ceremonies attended by only Everett and the cyclists’ people.

In complete, Cheung has produced 20 ghost bikes, four of which are in Cambridge. Clemmer’s will be his 21st, and the initially community ghost bicycle ceremony due to the fact the pandemic started.

“The instant a standard bicycle will become a ghost bike,” he claimed, “it’s a incredibly sacred second. I’m not a pretty spiritual man or woman, but it is someone’s lifetime.”

Peters, who will show up at the ghost bike ceremony on Saturday, believed that Clemmer would be touched.

“George would be really moved by how substantially support his dying is garnering. He often spoke of this type of activism as producing a big difference. I really feel like that’s taking place about him,” Peters claimed.

  • George Clemmer’s ghost bike ceremony is prepared for 10 a.m. Saturday at Massachusetts and Huntington avenues in Boston, hosted by the Boston Cyclists Union and presided over by the Rev. Lindsay Popperson.