Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Report: St. Stephens' Blessing of The Bikes

A handful of us were at the Blessing of the Bicycles and dedication of Tracey Sparling's ghost bike at the Episcopal Church this afternoon .

It was a short service, led by Deacon Ken Arnold, with a memorial to bicyclists, monologue on how bicyclists are vulnerable, and a few other things. Deacon Amos participated in the reading of the service. Portland Mayor Sam Adams was also there and spoke a few words, including how Tracey's death had motivated the city to install green bike boxes at its most dangerous intersections for bicyclists and right-turning cars. An official from PNCA where Tracey was a student also spoke, noting that PNCA was building a covered bike parking facility in memory of Tracey. Deacon Amos spoke on behalf of the Bike Temple, noting that it is cowardly to choose to not act on your beliefs and do what you can to effect positive change in your world. (note -- I didn't take good notes, hopefully Amos or others can elaborate or correct my thin summaries -- Pasture Ted)

Tracey's family was present, and about 40 other people.

Then bikes were blessed, and the formal service ended, but folks stuck around for tea and cookies.

Over tea and cookies, Deacon Ken asked as to the welfare of the Bike Temple, we told him we were no longer in our original church basement, but were looking for another basement for healing services during the week and access to the sanctuary once a month. He brightened up and took us down to their basement to see if it would meet our needs. It's big, it's empty, it's dark and dank (see photo). It would be great for a bike shop, but in our brief tour we were unable to find outdoor access. It may work out, it may not, but it's good to see that there are empty church basements in Portland and that at least one congregation would welcome the temple.

It was an appropriate service in many ways, remembering a person who was killed because she braved riding a bike even in a city full of cement trucks, and an affermation of those who continue to ride, and a discussion of what is being done to equalize transportation for bicyclists -- to create a city where people are not penalized with increased danger for their choice to ride a bike. Surely it shold be replicated in many ways for all the other people who are killed on bikes in Portland. And elsewhere. Tracey is only one of many. Fathers, children, friends, sisters get killed on a regular basis in Portland. If St. Stephens' services are replicated elsewhere, among the local congregations of all bicycle believers who die for their belief and lifestyle, it will create a positive result by raising awareness among drivers and supporting social change to improve bicycling conditions.

Yours in The Faith,
Pasture Ted

More information about St. Steven's Parish and the Madonna del Ghisallo Shrine

More information about Tracey Sparling from BikePortland

More photos of the service from BikePortland

New home for the Bike Temple? If there's outside access, it's a possibility


  1. Great write-up, pasture. Also of note: The bicycle shrine is open to the public during business hours, the parish encourages anyone that wishes to drop in to reflect or remember.

  2. Oregonian coverage, with a transcript of the service.

    * http://blog.oregonlive.com/commuting/2010/04/portland_church_develops_bicyc.html
    * http://www.oregonlive.com/news/index.ssf/2010/04/portland_ghost_bike_has_church.html

    If you want to see more of this kind of positive bike coverage from The Oregonian, be sure to post a nice comment on these news stories.

    Yours in The Faith,
    Pasture Ted