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Ghost Bike a haunting reminder of cyclist’s death

Memorial marks site where Jon Kaplan was hit by motorist on Highway 25 in Paicines.
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Nearly one year after the death of a Bay Area cyclist on Highway 25, a lone bicycle stands as a both a memorial and a reminder.

On Feb. 19, 2018, recreational bicyclist and Almaden Cycle Touring Club member Jon Kaplan, 65, took his final ride. A driver, going at excessive speed and distracted by the sunset, hit and killed Kaplan as he cycled northbound on Highway 25 in Paicines.

According to Ed Irvine, communication coordinator with the Almaden Cycle Touring Club, Kaplan was out on a ride with club member Doug Rawson. Kaplan was riding a bit slowly, and Rawson went ahead to Paicines General Store to order food for the two of them. While Rawson was at the store, a motorist came in and informed him and store owner Maria Gonzalez of the crash. Rawson and Gonzalez went to the crash scene near Cienega Road and Hwy. 25.

“Jon was already declared dead and the driver had been taken in for testing (he was clean),” Irvine said.

A memorial ghost bike was installed by the Almaden Cycle Touring Club on Dec. 10 near the gate of Paicines Ranch, about a half-mile north of where Kaplan died. On Dec. 20, Chaim Koritzinsky, the rabbi of Kaplan’s temple, Congregation Etz Chayim, consecrated the memorial.

Ghost bikes are old bicycles sprayed white and placed in memorium for a cyclist lost on the road. The custom began in St. Louis, Missouri, in 2003. According to the ghost bike site, there are currently over 630 ghost bikes in over 210 locations worldwide. The memorials are usually accompanied by a small plaque with the rider’s name, date of birth and date of death.

Tres Pinos resident and Almaden cycle club member Art Cruz, who rode with Kaplan many times, said the Highway 25 ghost bike was installed to spread awareness of the danger to cyclists on the road and to promote traffic safety.

Cruz, on behalf of the bike club, thanked Paicines Ranch for their generosity in providing a site for the memorial. The bike was provided by San Jose-based Good Karma Bikes.

Cruz said Kaplan was an avid cyclist and was training to compete in the Hall of Fame 200-mile ride at the time of his death. The club posthumously awarded him hall of fame status.

 

 

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Carmel de Bertaut

Carmel has a BA in Natural Sciences/Biodiversity Stewardship from San Jose State University and an AA in Communications Studies from West Valley Community College. She reports on science and the environment, arts and human interest pieces. Carmel has worked in the ecological and communication fields and is an avid creative writer and hiker. She has been reporting for BenitoLink since May, 2018.