Chris Davidson

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Chris Davidson
Friday, August 12, 2011
Age: 37

Location:
Overton Square
Memphis , TN
United States

Martyr's Memorial 
"Ghost bikes" pay tribute to fallen cyclist, call for bike-friendly streets.

Two painted-white bikes, one chained to a pole outside the Hi-Tone Cafe
and one in Overton Square, mark the places where cyclist Chris Davidson
began and ended the journey that killed him.

But the bikes are more than memorials to a fallen Midtown cyclist. They're also cries for change.

In the early hours of August 12th, 37-year-old Davidson set off on his
bike after a rock show at the Hi-Tone. Somewhere near the corner of
Cooper and Madison, he was struck by a hit-and-run driver. Davidson was
able to get back on his bike and ride to his girlfriend's house but died
later from his injuries.

Last week, cyclists Adam Hite and Leila Hamdan, both friends of Davidson, installed the "ghost bikes" at both locations.

"[The bikes] serve as a memorial to Chris and as a reminder to motorists of cyclists' right of travel," Hite said.

Over the past decade, similar ghost bikes have been installed across the
world at sites where cyclists were killed by vehicles. They're often
adorned with signs that read, "A cyclist was struck here." The National
Ornamental Metal Museum is currently working on a set of bronze plaques
to be placed on the two ghost bikes honoring Davidson.

"We're hoping motorists will see the bikes and remember what happened,"
Hamdan said. "And the next time they come around a corner and find a
cyclist on the road, they'll respect that rider's rights."

But since Davidson's death more than three weeks ago, Hamdan has seen
little (if any) change in the way Memphis drivers behave around
cyclists.

"There's definitely a lot of momentum [to promote safety for cyclists]
that's come out of this tragedy, especially among Chris' friends and the
bike community," Hamdan said.

"The timing is really interesting with the debate over the Madison bike
lanes going on," Hite said. "I think bike lanes are extremely important
for the city when there are a lot of people who commute by bike."

For the past several months, cycling advocates and a few Madison Avenue
business owners have butted heads over the city's proposal to add
dedicated bike lanes along a stretch of Madison. Mayor A C Wharton is
expected to make a decision on whether to add lanes or simply add "share
the road" signage by this fall. Last Friday, nearly 50 cyclists
gathered in Overton Square across the street from where Davidson was
struck for a rally advocating for dedicated bike lanes along Madison.

Others are stepping forward with other ways to remember Davidson and
highlight the need for change. Angela Russell, owner of Underground Art,
hung posters around town calling for information on the motorist who
hit Davidson. She's also placed ads in the Flyer with messages like, "On August 12, a hit and run killed our friend."

Last Thursday, Underground Art provided free tattoos of Davidson's
catchphrase, "Man What!," dedicating the day's tips to the Davidson
family.

Even with the swelling ranks fighting for bicycle and pedestrian safety
in Memphis, more is needed to create change, Hamdan said: "Cyclists
fighting for cyclists isn't enough. We need the city to show some
leadership."