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Instructor’s Ghost Bike Exhibit Part of Dia de Los Muertos Ofrendas

October 28, 2015 -- For the sixth year in a row, CNM biology, anatomy and physiology instructor and avid cyclist Jennifer Buntz has installed a “ghost bike” exhibit as part of the Dia de los Muertos Ofrendas at the National Hispanic Cultural Center (NHCC).
Instructor’s Ghost Bike Exhibit Part of Dia de Los Muertos Ofrendas

Oct 28, 2015

She is a founding member of Duke City Wheelmen, a local organization that installs most of New Mexico’s ghost bikes in honor of cyclists who have been killed in traffic accidents. The bikes are painted white, decorated with plastic flowers and placed at locations where the crashes occurred as memorials.

Every year, the NHCC opens its doors for school kids and the general public to place “Ofrendas” in a large room on its campus. Ofrendas, which is Spanish for offerings, consists of mementos, pictures, traditional flowers like marigolds, food and sugar skulls that are placed on a ritual altar in memory of a deceased loved one. These altars are created ahead of Dia de los Muertos celebrations, which typically take place Nov. 1-2.

“It’s only fitting that a ghost bike be included in an Ofrenda,” Buntz said. “Like the other Ofrendas, it honors people who are no longer with us. Each year the Ofrenda evolves as items are placed, moved or discarded. Inclusion of a ghost bike Ofrenda has also been an incredible opportunity for people to learn about ghost bikes.”

Helping Buntz with the first ghost bike Ofrenda in 2010 at the NHCC was artist and fellow cyclist Jacobo de la Serna. Buntz has been coordinating the Duke City Wheelmen Ofrenda project ever since.

This year’s Duke City Wheelmen’s Ofrenda represents all New Mexico cyclists who have been killed in traffic. Besides the white bike, the Ofrenda also features pictures of seven other ghost bikes, honoring those victims.

Buntz’s first ghost bike was in honor of her friend and prominent member of the Albuquerque cycling community Paula Higgens, who was killed in 2006. Her ghost bike is located at the corner of Pennsylvania and Comanche.

“Paula’s bike was the first one that stayed up,” Buntz noted. “There were a couple others before hers, but they were taken down by the city. We now have an arrangement with the city that we can put the bikes up if they are not chained to city property.”

Usually Duke City Wheelmen create ghost bikes at the request of the families. JCT Coatings sands and paints the bikes. Buntz then hand paints the name of the victim, along with the birth and death years, on the bike. There’s a ceremony with family and friends, who frequently decorate the bike with items the victim liked.

“It’s amazing how the look of each bike evolves over time,” Buntz said.

The ghost bike Ofrenda can be viewed in the Domenici Education Building now through Nov. 8 during the National Hispanic Cultural Center’s regular hours, Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and during other special events. Check the calendar at http://www.nationalhispaniccenter.org or call (505) 246-2261.