Bicyclists take to the streets in memorial ride for cyclist killed in Pittsfield Township
Tim Pincikowski's death sent shockwaves through the Ann Arbor-area biking community. And tonight, that community rode in Pincikowski's memory, hoping to promote greater coexistence between cyclists and motorists.
The Saline man was heading north on Maple Road near Ellsworth Road in Pittsfield Township when he was struck by a 2002 Dodge Caravan heading in the same direction on July 28.
Pincikowski, 45, left behind not only his wife, Lisa, son Michael, daughter Lauren, and parents Ruth and Leonard - but also a biking community that was reminded of its own vulnerability.
In a show of solidarity, about 200 supporters of the Washtenaw Biking and Walking Coalition took part in a symbolic, three-and-a-half mile bike ride - guided by a police escort - from Ann Arbor Pioneer High School to the spot where Pincikowski was killed three weeks earlier.
Members of the bicycling community say their goal is to foster greater mutual respect between cyclists and motorists.
On Maple Road, where Pincikowski was killed, the speed limit is 55 miles per hour. That puts a premium on driver awareness on the part of both cyclists and motorists, said Matt Harshberger, director of public safety for Pittsfield Township.
When the bikers reached the site where Pincikowski was killed, Joel Pannozo, a member of the local cycling community, posted a black-and-white sign near the shoulder bearing Pincikowski's name and the date of his death. That sign, along with the ghost bike a quarter mile up the road, are intended to encourage motorists and cyclists to share the road and commute with awareness.
When a cyclist dies in an accident, members of the local cycling community lock a white-washed bike to a nearby road sign. The ghost bike tradition started in St. Louis in 2003, "to serve as reminders of the tragedy that took place on an otherwise anonymous street corner, and as quiet statements in support of cyclists' right to safe travel."
Harshberger said that the ghost bike honoring Pincikowski will soon be relocated to the actual spot of his death.
After the memorial sign was posted, Pincikowski's brother, Scott, gave a short speech and led a moment of silence. After recounting the incident to a rally participant who hadn't heard the story, Scott thanked the crowd and rejoined his family. Scott said he's is planning to start a foundation dedicated to stressing the need for motorists and bikers to share the roadways, and for motorists to give at least three feet to cyclists.
Pittsfield Township Supervisor Mandy Grewal said she hopes his death "puts a human face" on the need for peaceful coexistence between cyclists and motorists.
In the near term, Grewal wants to put bike lane road markers on shoulders like the one on Maple Road, as well as signs encouraging motorists to share the road with bikers.
Cyclists hoping for word on whether the driver of the Dodge Caravan would be criminally charged left the rally without an answer.
The Pittsfield Township Police Department submitted the results of its investigation last week to Washtenaw County Prosecutor Brian Mackie, who has yet to decide whether to press charges.
James David Dickson reports on human interest stories for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at (734) 623-2532.
Photos by Lon Horwedel, AnnArbor.com: Photo 1 - A sign post in memory of bicyclist Tim Pincikowski stands in the foreground of the nearly 200 cyclists who rode tonight. Photo 2 - Bicyclists ride up South Main Street in Ann Arbor en route to Maple Road in Pittsfield Township. Photo 3 - Lisa Pincikowski of Saline, Tim Pincikowski's wife, gets a hug from Paul Gloor of Grosse Ille, one of Tim's friends.