Excerpted in part from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette:
On the evening of Sunday, June 7, Chris Shavers, a husband and father of three children, was bicycling east on Seventh Street, in the Stifft Station neighborhood of Little Rock.
According to a witness, the driver of a pickup truck rounded the corner at Woodrow in a hurry to beat the light, striking and killing Shavers.
The following Tuesday, Cynthia and her sister-in-law, along with a few other relatives, gathered at the corner of Seventh and Woodrow to rest Mylar balloons and teddy bears — all in red, Christopher’s favorite color — on the sidewalk.
It would be another week, Christopher’s burial in between, before the street memorial would take on the conceptual quality of an art installation, courtesy of a bicycle painted entirely in white that seemed to materialize there at the corner overnight, no clue as to its depositor.
Cynthia Shavers dressed her husband in red and black and laid him to rest on Saturday. When she revisited the memorial the following Monday evening, the arrangement was just as the family had left it, balloons, bears, candles, a photo of Christopher on which Cynthia had written, “RIP, my love.”
But by rush hour the following morning, there was the all-white bicycle, an inscription of its own — “A Cyclist Was Killed Here.” Chris Shavers had taken on meaning beyond domestic mementos of loss, even if it’s unlikely that, in life, he had thought of himself as a “cyclist,” the way bike-lane boosters and helmet comparison-shoppers do.
Technically, its arrival at the corner of Seventh and Woodrow was one of the city’s first episodes of the “ghost bike” movement. A ghost bike, painted an ethereal white, is placed at the scene of a cyclist’s death, whether the deceased was known among a city’s active biking constituency or not. The color scheme — or colorless scheme — is meant to be “very stark, very plain,” said Ezell. “Like a ghost sitting there on the corner.”
When she learned of the ghost bike, left at the memorial by a stranger, Cynthia Shavers drew her hand to her mouth absent-mindedly and smiled a half-smile. “That’s nice,” she said. “I like that.”