Tag Archives: ghost bike

What’s the Rush?

In December 380 years ago, Harmen Myndersz van den Bogaert set out by foot for Mohawk country to reaffirm a beaver pelt relationship on behalf of the Dutch West India Company. He and his buds, Willem Thomassen and Jeronimus dela Croix, probably followed a path not far from Route 5S and eventually walked almost to Lake Ontario.

In October, 106 years ago, the 1909 Model T rolled off the Piquette Avenue Plant line in Detroit.

In October 8 years ago, a car ran down Alan Fairbanks, 72, while he was crossing Route 5S to continue cycling on the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail. Al died in hospital a month later. The photo shows his daughter and grandson setting up Al’s ghost bike. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAl was an experienced cyclist. The precise nature of the collision was never clear. Those who know this highway-trail crossing will attest to its danger. A posted 55 mph would be a minimum.

In both cases, although for different reasons, all these men were going about their business in the Mohawk River Valley.

In May 6 years ago, the Daily Gazette reported that Al’s ghost bike appeared “. . . on the trail the same week Rotterdam officials unveiled the Exit 26 and Interstate 890 land-use and transportation study. An outpouring of concern brought the trail crossing to the forefront of the Capital District Transportation Committee-funded study, even though it wasn’t an intended focus. ‘It’s a bad intersection,’ said Peter Comenzo, the town planner.”OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Today, April 1, 2014, the Albany Times Union reports plans to improve safety by altering the Mohawk Hudson Bike/Hike Trail that runs along this section of Route 5S. Schenectady County plans to spend $148,000 on the project. The County will realign the crossing of the roadway and slow trail (but not highway?) traffic as it approaches the crossing. It will include signs on the trail and roadway to alert travelers. Follow the Times Union link for photos and for information on the public hearing.

Other ghost bikes in the area include the following: Matthew Ratelle – December 20, 2012 (age 40, bicyclist killed by impaired driver, on Rt. 22, Petersburg), Paul J. Merges, Jr. – November 24, 2012 (age 45, bicyclist killed by pickup truck/drunk driver, on Manning and Roosevelt, Albany), Nicholas Richichi – October 19, 2007 (age 53, bicyclist killed by motor coach, Fuller Rd., Colonie), Diva De Loayza – June 6, 2007 (age 40; bicyclist killed by car, on Western Ave. at Homestead, Albany), Jose Perez – August 3, 2006 (age 60; bicyclist killed by SUV on Broadway at Quay St., Albany.), Joel Melnikoff – July 3, 2006 (age 49; bicyclist killed by car/drunk, Rt. 32, Bethlehem), David Ryan – June 29, 2004 (age 32; bicyclist killed by car/reckless driver on Riverview Rd., Rexford), and Robert F. Zayhowski – July 16, 2000 (age 43; bicyclist killed by SUV/drunk driver on Rt. 66, Sand Lake). (Notably, at least four of these fatalities were caused by “perps” on drugs, alcohol, or both.)

So . . . whats’ the rush?

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ABC Donates to Matthew Ratelle Benefit Ride

Tomhannock Bicycles is hosting a “Matthew Ratelle Family Trust” benefit ride on Sunday, 8/18, 9 AM. The Albany Bicycle Coalition made a donation to benefit the late cyclist’s children one of whom was born after his death.

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The ride starts at Tomhannock Bicycles, 3149 Rt. 7, Pittstown (10 min. east of Troy). There is a $25 entry fee for a 28-mile loop ride for all levels with food and refreshments after the ride. All proceeds from registrations go to the Trust. Register at bikereg.com. Those wishing to contribute individually may make checks payable to the “Matthew Ratelle Benefit Ride” and mail them to the following address:
Timothy Bonnier
ATTN: Matthew Ratelle Benefit Ride
Tomhannock Bicycles
3149 NYS Rt. 7
Pittstown, NY 12094

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Another Cyclist Run Down by an “Impaired” Driver

Matthew Ratelle 10-26-72 -- 12-20-12 CThe Times Union reported today that another cyclist has died.  Matthew Ratelle was struck down from behind about 8:30 a.m. (broad daylight) on 9/3.  According to the report, one can conclude that Ratelle was an “avid cyclist” who had driven to the start of his ride on Rt. 22, was wearing a helmet, was riding on the shoulder, and had a GPS device on his bicycle – all hardly signs of a casual or unprepared rider going on an errand.

According to the Times Union, the killer, Becky Goodermote, was charged with::

  • Leaving the scene of a serious personal injury accident
  • Operating a vehicle while impaired by drug
  • Driving with a suspended registration
  • Failure to use due care

The TU report notes further that Goodermote, who was also suspected of texting at the time, left the scene but was caught when her concerned family member told  police that Goodermote returned home with extensive damage to her vehicle that she could not explain.Matthew Ratelle 10-26-72 -- 12-20-12 B

Ratelle, who leaves a wife and three young children, landed about 30 yards from where he was struck and suffered massive trauma.

UPDATE 12-22-12

Funeral and Wake for Matthew Ratelle, Another Cyclists Killed on the Road – Those cyclists who would like to reach out to the family of a fellow bicyclist Matthew Ratelle may visit on Sunday, December 23, 2012 from 4 until 7 p.m. at the Parker Bros. Memorial, 2013 Broadway, Watervliet.

The funeral will be Monday, December 24, 2012, 10 a.m., Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, corner of Eagle St. and Madison Ave., Albany.

Contributions may be made to the Ratelle Family Trust, to benefit his children, in care of the funeral home office.

Visit parkerbrosmemorial.com for directions, to light a candle, and for condolence book.

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Ghost Bikes Decorated for Christmas

O OOThe ghost bikes of Paul Merges (11/24/12) and Diva De Loayza (6/6/07) now have augmented decorations.

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Drunks and Death

(This is written just after returning from the funeral home visitation for Paul J. Merges, a cyclist brutally run down by a drunk at Central and Manning early Saturday, November 24.)

With installation of a ghost bike for Paul, we will have experienced a 50 percent mortality rate of cyclists due to drunks on the road.  In addition to Paul and according to my records, drunks killed the following:

  •  Jose Perez – August 3, 2006 (age 60; bicyclist killed by SUV on Quay St. near Broadway, Albany)
  • Joel Melnikoff – July 3, 2006 (age 49; bicyclist killed by car on Rt. 32, Bethlehem)
  • Robert F. Zayhowski – July 16, 2000 (age 43; bicyclist killed by SUV on Rt. 66, SandLake)

Some may also recall that the spouse of an ABC member was run down from behind and injured by drunks on Madison Ave. near Washington Park.

(The other ghost bikers were Nicholas Richichi – 2007, Diva De Loayza – 2007, Alan R. Fairbanks – 2006, and David Ryan – 2004.)

Some may also recall that the spouse of an ABC member was run down from behind and injured by drunks on Madison Ave. near Washington Park.

As this is written, the perp now sits in jail (on your check).  He tested out at twice the legal limit.  I urge each reader to monitor how this case progresses through the (re-elected) DA’s office and what punishment is handed down.  You might also consider those county and state legislators (that Albanians persist in re-electing) to see what they do to remove drunks from the road permanently.

As a closing note, the funeral parlor waiting line extended out of the viewing room, down the hall, up the stairs, down another hall, into the main hall to the front door and then wound around to the back door.  Paul’s father, mother, brothers, sister-in-law, children, nieces and nephews, and other relatives were in the reception line and viewing room.  Paul’s father expressed his gratitude to ABC and even had enough courage to state, “you people should be able to ride the streets in safety.”  See also the ABC Letter to the Editors.

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