Here lies a dead bike: James Walker at TEDxRVA
When TEDxRVA speaker James Walker moved to Richmond, VA, he noticed an unusual trend — abandoned bike skeletons chained to trees and poles all over the city. As a lover of bicycles and a believer in reuse, he decided to do something about it, and so to draw attention to these “dead” bikes, he began to memorialize them, shrouding frames with black fabric reading, “Here lies a dead bike.”
He recruited friends to help with this new project, which he called Dead Bikes RVA, and soon dead bikes were being honored all over the city. On the project’s website, they laid out Dead Bikes’ mission:
By shrouding these dead bicycles, we show our appreciation and love for bicycles and hope that they’ll get their second life.
Within the city limits you will occasionally find a bicycle, locked to a pole or tree, stripped of its valuable pieces and left to rust. Even without these components, the bicycle still has value and could be saved for a minimal cost.
What does this say about our respect for a machine we spend so much time enjoying? Does the loss of a lock key merit the abandonment of the entire bike?
The intent of this project is to bring a renewed appreciation for bicycle culture and awareness to a community willing to leave their friends behind.
This March, James spoke at TEDxRVA about the project and explained how art can bring awareness to different social issues. From his talk:
You know how you get someone to notice something in an environment? It’s through disruption … you want to change their expected sight or behavior, and they’ll pay attention for a second…
There’s a lot of big problems in the world worth solving, but there’s a lot of small problems you can solve with kind of some strange ideas…
What [Dead Bikes] is about is, ‘What aren’t you noticing in your community or neighborhood because you’ve been there so long,’ and, ‘What would you do with something if you noticed it?’
Since its start, the project has expanded, with James and friends creating a QR Code-marked bike path based on the locations of found dead bikes in Richmond. “Now cyclists have a path to follow to become involved and a new reason to ride their bikes,” says the Dead Bikes website. “As more submissions are received, the path will continue to grow.”
For more on Dead Bikes, watch James’s entire TEDxRVA talk here, or visit the Dead Bikes website.
(Photos via Dead Bikes)