Artur Piotr Ruszel ghost bike and vigil report
On Friday 13th February 2015 a group of around 50 people assembled to hold a vigil in memory of Artur Piotr Ruszel, who was killed whilst cycling on 13th January. The vigil was held close to the spot on Upper Brook Street where Mr. Ruszel was involved in a collision with a car. He died from his injuries later that day.
The focal point of the vigil was the installation of a ghost bike in Mr. Ruszel’s memory. Ghost bikes are bikes that are painted white and placed at the spot where a cyclist was killed or fatally injured. Mr. Ruszel’s ghost bike stands at the junction of Upper Brook Street and Brunswick Street, and serves both as a permanent symbol of remembrance that a man died at that spot as well as a reminder to all road users passing – especially motorists – to take care on the roads for the sake of their own safety as well as that of those around them. Thanks to Cristian Chesha and all those who offered him parts and time to help build Mr. Ruszel’s ghost bike.
The vigil started off with an impassioned speech by Nick Hubble of GMCC, who expressed thanks to all for their attendance. The fact that the turn-out was so strong, despite the fact that no one present had known Mr. Ruszel personally, was a sign that as cyclists we feel a sense of kinship with anyone who suffers serious injury or death as a result of the daily dangers of cycling on our motor-centric road system. Nick continued by highlighting that Greater Manchester authorities had only that week been generating positive publicity for themselves around the commencement of work on the first of their Cycling City Ambition projects, yet Upper Brook Street, which was recently extensively upgraded with no provision whatsoever for cyclists, tells a different story about the city’s commitment to becoming a cycling city. Nick then repeated the call for safe Space for Cycling and outlined the principles of the Vision Zero approach to road safety.
Catholic priest Father Tim Byron from the Holy Name Church on Oxford Road then conducted a short ceremony to bless the ghost bike and held a moment’s silence to pay tribute to Mr. Ruszel.
Jonathan Fingland, GMCC’s Chair, closed the formal part of the vigil with some defiant words:
“…nothing can bring Artur back but we’re not dead, so politicians and police can still see us and hear our message: we need them to stop the killing and start working on Vision Zero – now”
Everyone with a bike was then invited to pay their respects to Mr. Ruszel with a final lap of honour past his ghost bike, and the pealing of bicycle bells symbolised the continued vitality of Manchester’s cycling community in the face of such tragedy.
This was the first time a ghost bike vigil has been held by the wider cycling community in Manchester, and the strength of the attendance was a powerful demonstration of the solidarity among people who ride bikes in Manchester. One morning in January a man got on a bike and never reached his destination. His death resonated with so many people who ride a bike to get from A to B – we all just want to be able to safely complete our journeys. No matter who was at fault in the collision that cost Mr. Ruszel his life, one simple mistake should not mean death or serious injury. Enough is enough. We need dedicated and protected safe Space for Cycling on our main roads – now.