Friends to build 'ghost bike' in honor of cyclist who died in Lexington crash

Rick Kerr, who was killed while riding his bike on Russell Cave Road.
Rick Kerr, who was killed while riding his bike on Russell Cave Road.

Friends of bicyclist Thomas "Rick" Kerr, who died Thursday after a traffic crash, plan to gather at the Broke Spoke Community Bike Shop in Lexington Saturday morning to build a "ghost bike" in his memory.

A ghost bike is a roadside memorial that riders build and place at the spot where a fellow cyclist has been killed or severely injured. The practice is common in some areas. But the ghost bike planned for Kerr might be the first ever placed in Lexington, bicyclist Andy Shooner said Friday.

Those who worked with Kerr said he had gone through some tough times. But they remembered him as a friendly, soft-spoken and "beloved volunteer" at the Broke Spoke shop, where he had worked since last spring.

Kerr, 53, was riding a bike that he had earned by working at the shop when he was hit from behind on Russell Cave Road about 2 p.m. Thursday. He died about 20 minutes later at the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital.

According to police, Kerr was going south on Russell Cave when he was rear-ended by a Chevy Blazer driven by Terry A. Spencer of Lexington. Spencer was not injured, officers said.

Police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said Friday that no charges have been filed, although an investigation into the crash remains open.

Kerr lived at St. James Place, operated by the Foundation for Affordable Housing Inc., which offers housing for the working homeless and recovering homeless veterans.

Foundation president Phil Gray said Kerr was a veteran and had been living at St. James Place for a few months.

"He rode his bike everywhere," Gray said. "That was his mode of transportation."

Shooner said Kerr showed up at Broke Spoke last spring and volunteered to help out.

"When he started, he told me he was just trying to improve himself and that he wanted to help out because of that," Shooner said Friday. "He was there just about every shift.

"I don't think he knew much about mechanics at first. He began by cleaning up around the shop and sorting bike parts. But he was soon helping people fix their bikes by himself."

Broke Spoke acquires and repairs old bikes, which needy people can then acquire by volunteering at the shop to build up "sweat equity." Kerr acquired his bike that way.

"He was really proud of it," Shooner said. "He told me he kept it in his room because he didn't want to leave it locked up. Riding wasn't recreation for him. It was the way he got around town."

Eileen Burk, another shop volunteer, said Kerr always took time to greet people and ask how they were.

"He was soft-spoken," she said. "But he stood out."

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