Does your town have a Ghost Bike?

I have a few photos from various countries of bikes being used for things other than riding. Everything about a bikes design is built with the belief that a person will be on top of it, so seeing a bike upright without feet on the pedals and hands on the grips can be a little eerie, like finding a glove without a hand in it or a clothing lying in a field. Where is the person?

Take this photo of a bike, taken by the beach in Rio.

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Okay, this one isn’t as strange as it has been used as a stand for souvenirs. It is probably very difficult to ride like that anyway, but it looks cool and I decided to take a photograph. Looking at the background it does seem like bikes were pretty common here, I can’t remember seeing so many whilst I was there. This is another great example of the power of photography. Our memories change over time, our photographs don’t. Photographs are a way to look back in time for what it was, we might see things we couldn’t remember being there, or didn’t realise at all.

I also took this picture of this bike in Austin, TX.

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This one has a different story. I cannot remember what was on the sign other than the name of person that died and the words ‘Ghost Bikes’… I decided to google Ghost Bikes today and it is a pretty fascinating read. They first appeared in St Louis, Missouri in 2003 and since then 630 ghost bikes have appeared in 210 locations around the world.

From the website GhostBikes.org it has the following to say about the phenomenon:

Ghost Bikes are small and somber memorials for bicyclists who are killed or hit on the street. A bicycle is painted all white and locked to a street sign near the crash site, accompanied by a small plaque. They serve as reminders of the tragedy that took place on an otherwise anonymous street corner, and as quiet statements in support of cyclists’ right to safe travel.

The bike was found on a bridge, I am pretty sure the same bridge as this one, although I may be wrong. It was definitely taken shortly afterwards.

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I thought this may have been a one off at the time. Clearly it isn’t and it shows how the internet can bring people together, people that have a shared story of loss with a mutual passion or profession. The following countries have Ghost Bikes, some in multiple locations:

Different nations, very similar stories and I am sure there are ways to find out about these people and a little insight to their lives that were tragically cut short.

The people in our pictures

People we have never met still contribute to our memories. The strangers in our photo albums, frozen timelessly into each picture. These people will never age. They will always be wearing that dress, those sunglasses. They will always be holding hands with that partner, laughing with that friend. Where are they now?

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I wonder how many people making up this crowd are still in South America today, maybe in Rio itself. Living a life that I only managed a glimpse of whilst travelling around Brazil for four weeks. I love this about travelling, that first time experience whether it be eating a forkful of new food or sipping a local traditional drink. What is new to us is all that some people may have ever known. Knowing this is true for tourists to my region has made me want to venture out as much as I can. Life is far too short to only sample our own neighbourhood, especially considering our location is purely down to chance.

What lives did the other attendees travel back to? The 78,000+ capacity stadium is three times larger than my hometown, and my hometown had plenty of stories. Many would have married and possibly had children since I snapped this crowd shot. How many people have not made it to see the day this post has went online. Even if they did not make it, their footprints did and this presence has contributed to my memories. I thank them for that.

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It is wonderful to consider the thousands of people we have preserved in time through photographs. All the emotions and behaviours present that very second… I bet there are some incredible stories hidden behind the anonymity. It is hard to see these individuals as anything but extras, obviously this couldn’t be less true. We simply don’t have the time or opportunity to hear them all. Maybe one of these people are following my blog, I could well be following them.

Even though we did not realise they brushed shoulders with us somewhere in the world, they did. Some of these people may walk right by us again someday, somewhere. How would we know? How would they know? It may take 50 years before we look at that photo again, too late to ever knowingly brush shoulders once more.

Their boat may sail before we can watch it depart, this doesn’t mean we cannot read the story they left behind for us.

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Our normal needs more crazy

I don’t think this horse has a name, just a legacy. It is a recent addition to this street and has heads turning every single time. Why wouldn’t it? It is a horse on roller skates for crying out loud!

Then again, that is all it is. A horse and roller skates. Two very normal things combined to completely throw us off guard. Add some bright colours into the mix to truly go off the rails.

Normal+Normal=Crazy.

Something so simple is very effective at grabbing attention, it is that easy to stand out. Our everyday is very repetitive, our work patterns and dress codes, our watercooler conversations and elevator silences. A dog rocking pink shoes at the beach is like an oasis in the desert for our under-stimulated eyes and boy, did he like the attention.

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There is a reason we weren’t satisfied with black and white television. There is a reason colouring books exist. Colour adds so much more to our lives. Nothing compliments a sunny day like a burst of colour. Nothing gives hope to a cloudy day like a brightly painted house or bright yellow camper van. We need colour to stay sane and these bright blessings aren’t given enough chance.

My flatmate never wears black socks with his suits. He insists that avoiding them makes him happier and more motivated for the day ahead. I insisted that my fathers funeral was a colourful one. Even the darkest days need light, you could say they need them the most. Can you imagine if we all decided to wear greens, yellows and pinks everyday? It wouldn’t seem attention seeking or over the top if it was the new normal.

We set the standard for what is normal, why not raise the bar a little? There would be an even greater appreciation for those that go beyond that.

To infinity!

 

On top of the world

Blogging is great therapy. My daily routine has changed completely since deciding to write every day and with that, my motivation to do so much outside of blogging. It is like obtaining a master key but not to enter a room, to escape one. A dark room that left little desire to spread a message, one that I wouldn’t want to spread without a healthy frame of mind.

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That master key thankfully works to unlock so much more. I get out of bed earlier. I have breakfast. I will do twenty push-ups if I know I won’t be able to go to the gym today. I spend the day looking around for motivation for my next post instead of looking for a clock telling me when I will be able to go back to bed. I have more reason to get out of bed and more meaning to my days between sleeping.

Healthy eating is another, I don’t need to seek as much happiness from junk food. I have never been a very unhealthy eater but I am still seeing benefits. There is less boredom in my day, less desire to find excitement in areas that don’t benefit my body and mind. If my mind is constantly stimulated I have less time to rest my head on that pillow of procrastination. It is simple but effective. I used to be Indiana running away from work ethic, I prefer to be the ball of motivation chasing my doubts and pessimism away. Once it is rolling, it is much harder to slow down.

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I enjoy being the ball.

I am saving money as I am not spending it trying to pass time. Saving for greater things to blog about. You will see where it takes me in the next few months, providing I don’t lose my passport before then. Ah! There is another positive. I don’t hate waiting for fun things I have planned later in the year as I am having fun today. They say good things come to those who wait. Why wait, and why not have fun everyday? It is possible. There is a huge wasted opportunity when living for something you have planned later in the year. All attention is on that calendar date and crossing the boxes until it arrives. What happens to the days that have been crossed off? Were they just seen as stepping stones? Each one consists of 24 hours, that is a huge chunk of time to let slip by. After a few of these it isn’t days but life that is slipping by. Don’t make that mistake.

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The more I aim to do the worse I feel when I do not keep busy. As long as this busy consists of things that I enjoy, I feel good. It has been said that one of the biggest regrets from people on their death bed is working too hard. I believe that if work is your ambition and consisting of things you enjoy, it won’t be work. Our aim is to find work that we want to do, not that we need to do to keep going.

If I can live a life mostly consisting of what I enjoy, I will feel good. The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best day is today. There is no quicker way to get to where you want than to start right now, and hopefully I will not have to ride so many cable cars to feel like I am on top of the world.

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