White Bike Appears on Temescal Canyon

By Sue Pascoe

A white metal bike memorial appeared in Temescal Canyon Park in April, with the name “James Rapley” carved into it.

Rapley, who worked in Chicago, was on a layover in Los Angeles on his way to his home country of Australia in December 2013. While pedaling up Temescal Canyon Road (north of PCH), he was struck and killed by an intoxicated teen driver from Santa Monica.

Although the bike in Temescal Canyon Park looks like a ghost bike memorial, this metal structure carved with the name James Rapley (a biker who was struck and killed by a motorist) is actually a bike rack.
Although the bike in Temescal Canyon Park looks like a ghost bike memorial, this metal structure carved with the name James Rapley (a biker who was struck and killed by a motorist) is actually a bike rack.














At that time, a ghost bike was placed at the site. According to the L.A. Ghost Bike website (ghostbike.org/la), a bicycle is painted all white and placed at a fatal bike accident scene as a reminder of the tragedy.

Cathie Santa Dominigo, Superintendent for the Planning, Construction & Maintenance Department of L.A. Recreation & Parks, was asked when memorials at city parks became available.

“Let me check with our maintenance folks to find out more info,” Santa Dominigo wrote in a May 23 email. “I’m only aware of one memorial that was approved by the board in recent times as part of a lawsuit settlement at Spring Street Park in downtown.”

Eight days later, she responded, “I was informed that this [the bike memorial on Temescal] was installed through our maintenance department at the request of the council office.”

On June 14, the News contacted Councilman Mike Bonin’s office and asked why the family/council office did not use the typical process of memorializing a person. (Benches start at $3,500 and for an additional $1,000 a plaque is placed.)

Jessie Holzer, Councilman Bonin’s mobility deputy, did not answer that question, but instead replied on June 16: “Sorry for any confusion. I obviously did work with the Department of Recreation and Parks to get this installed.

“I assisted the family of Mr. James Rapley to install the memorial. I am not familiar with the process of putting memorials in parks, but I can tell you what I know about this project.

“We chose the location in the park because the adjacent sidewalk was not wide enough to park bicycles and meet ADA requirements, and this park did not already have any bike parking. The family purchased the bike rack, which cost about $850.” Rapley’s girlfriend, Karen Scott, wrote on Foreverlovedforevermissed.tumbr: “Got an email from the L.A. City Council that James’ permanent ghost bike memorial/ bike rack has finally been installed . . . But I’m so grateful for the council for putting this memorial up and for the strangers who never knew James, from the ghost bike community and bikinginla blog, who have worked with the council and James’ family to have this created. It is the first of its kind in L.A. at least and now that there is a process that has been created, these permanent reminders can have a better chance of being installed in high-risk areas to try to help stop more of these tragic losses in the future.”

David Wolfberg, mayoral appointee for the Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee and a volunteer with the Ghost bike organization, wrote in a July 6 email to the News, “John Rapley [James’ father] is also particularly concerned about DUI driving which was a major circumstance in the killing of James. The council office was approached with the family’s support and offer to finance a memorial here.” Holzer and Santa Domingo were asked if the memorial process and policies are now changed for city parks. Would it now be possible for additional memorials along Temescal Canyon Road for the two pedestrians killed: Louis and Daphne Padula; biker Dr. Keith Nolop, who was struck by a motorist on May 6 and succumbed to injuries on May 31; the two transients who have died in the canyon; and the worker, Gilbert Vargas, who was crushed by falling earth during the storm-water tank construction?

Holzer responded, “That’s a question for Rec and Parks, so I defer to Cathie.” Santa Domingo did not respond.

The News did receive an email from Ted Rogers of Biking in L.A. who clarified, “This is not a ghost bike, it is a bike rack. This is a functioning piece of park furniture, and has been approved by the city as such. While it was placed in memory of someone who died needlessly on our streets, anyone is free to lock their bicycles up to it.”

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