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Clark vigil

Jim Clark’s wife, Kristie, and son place flowers on a bicycle memorial during a vigil on Tuesday, one month from the day Clark was killed while riding his bicycle on the BikeNet trail on the Swords Lane bypass.

Family, friends and Billings cyclists stood vigil Tuesday morning at the crosswalk where a local man died on his ride to work on Feb 8.

Area bicycle enthusiast Kevin Odenthal organized the 6:45 a.m. memorial not only to honor the life of Jim Clark one month after his death but also to raise awareness of the dangers riders face on the streets of Billings.

Clark, 39, left behind a 7-year-old son and his wife, Kristie Clark, when he was killed near the intersection of the Sixth Street bypass and Swords Lane. Both attended the vigil on Tuesday and were the first to lay flowers on the “ghost bike” chained up near the crosswalk as a memorial to Jim Clark.

Odenthal also said the white-washed bike served as a “visual reminder that it’s really not that safe out here.”

“This could be any one of us, really,” Odenthal told the dozen people in attendance. “This is a real guy with a real life, a real story and a real family.”

He said he wants to see motorists treat people on bicycles as they would slower moving traffic like farm machinery. There could also be improved routes for bicyclists connecting existing trails and creating new ones.

“I’d like there to be a way to come from the Heights to downtown without taking your life in your hands,” Odenthal said.

Other cyclists at the vigil echoed that sentiment. Curt Thompson said he rode his bike to work for 15 years before his commute included three miles along King Avenue.

He said every rider should remember safety before leaving home.

“When you’re in the city riding in traffic you really have to pay attention to everyone,” Thompson said.

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General assignment reporter for the Billings Gazette.