Portland, died 28.June.2005
killed in traffic on the job
Memorial page for Kristine, set up by her family: http://www.for-kris.com.
To her, adventure was bike ride away
Midwest transplant and artist Kristine Okins embraced Portland's
lifestyle as a messenger
The Oregonian, July 26, 2005
By Joan Harvey
Their hearts were young and carefree. The three bright, beautiful sisters came individually to Portland from small-town Minnesota and called themselves Team Oki.
Kristine Okins was the middle sister, the adventurous one. Her
first trip to Portland was made riding boxcars with two friends. Her family
members were wrecks by the time she arrived, and her sisters chewed her
out, but she made it safely and loved telling the story. She was an artist, a graduate of the Perpich Center of Arts Education,
and had a bachelor's degree from Minneapolis College of Art & Design. After she moved to Portland, she got a job as a bike messenger and made it her profession.
She dreamed of adventure and seeing the world. She wanted to bike across the United States and across Ireland, the land of her ancestors, and to sail tall ships. Her favorite book was "Captain Blood." She lent it to friends to read and, after they had, sat down with them to watch her copy of the old Errol Flynn movie. She reveled in the young, urban Portland lifestyle. She lived with her sisters, Melissa and Angela, and other roommates in Sabin and then Boise neighborhood houses.
Kristine had been a vegetarian for a long time and more recently became vegan. She haunted vintage clothing stores and was a perfect model for retro clothes, with her bright red curly hair and rail-thin body. She had trouble getting above 100 pounds to donate blood. She wore the clothes for fun (an incongruous skintight black prom dress to hang out with Angela at the Amnesia Brew Pub), but was developing a refined, elegant style.
She didn't own a car; every place she went, she went by bike. She lived a healthy life, never smoked and never drank to excess. She always wore her helmet biking. Kristine courted her reputation as being hard as nails. She had a vocabulary that would make Capt. Blood blush, and wasn't hesitant to use it.
And yet she was as gentle as a kitten. She loved animals and couldn't bear to kill a spider; she'd cup it in her hands and take it outside. She still slept with her childhood stuffed animals, Lima the llama and Leroy the lion. She was a wizard with a sewing machine. She patched the pants of her fellow bikers so that the patches were barely visible, and she made bags out of vintage fabrics that she sold online and more recently at Last Thursday.
Kristine was in love. She met Billy Bleichner, a bicycle mechanic at River City Bicycles, through mutual friends. He teasingly told her, "Bike mechanics and bike messengers aren't supposed to get along in this town." She smiled and answered, "We'll see about that."
She swooped around town on a pink Tomasso that she and Billy
spent six months building together. It fit her perfectly.
When Melissa encouraged her to get back to her career as a graphic artist, Kristine shrugged it off. She had had a taste of sitting all day in front of a computer screen, she said. Right now, she loved her life, loved her freedom and wanted to enjoy it a little while longer. She had a whole lifetime ahead of her to spend in front of that screen. She was looking forward to Melissa's wedding. She bought two new-old dresses from the Glamour Gallery, designed the announcement cards (a
picture of a hitching post with a knot around it) and was designing the invitations. On July 1, she and Billy were going to New York City, where she was registered to compete in the Cycle Messenger World Championships.
On June 27, 2005, Kristine was hit by a truck in downtown Portland. She died the next day. She was 25. Her close-knit community of fellow bikers held a memorial ride for her July 1. Afterward, a group met to talk and cry and reminisce about her. In the evening, they decorated two bike wheels with flowers and, in their sad tradition, cast them into the river.
Bike Messenger Dies After Collision
With Semi Truck
Crash Details Not Clear
KOIN.com, June 30, 2005
PORTLAND -- A bicycle messenger was fatally wounded this week in a collision with a semi truck in downtown Portland. Police say 24-year-old Kristine Okins was in the bike lane on Southwest Broadway Monday morning when the wreck occurred. Witnesses told police that the truck and bicycle were stopped at the light at Washington Street. As the light turned green, both continued southbound, and the bike sped ahead. About 150 feet past the intersection, a witness saw Okins and her bike under the wheel of the truck. The truck had not turned its wheels or changed lanes. Coworkers told KOIN News 6 that Okins was conscious after the crash and called them to report the incident. She was taken to Oregon Health and Science University, where her condition worsened. She died Tuesday before investigators could speak with her.
Anyone with information was asked to call the Portland Police Bureau at (503) 823-2103.
No charges were initially filed against the truck driver. Police say he was not impaired. Okins' coworkers described her as an outgoing and determined woman. A fund was established to help the family with funeral expenses. Donations can be made to the Kristine Okins Memorial Fund at U.S. Bank branches.
For 4 cyclists, life's ride ended
in a flash
Accidents on city streets claimed eclectic, active lives
Portland Tribune, December 30, 2005
By Jacob Quinn Sanders, The Tribune
Four bicyclists died on Portland streets in 2005. It's not an unusual number - four died in 2003, five in 2001.
They were killed in all parts of the city - North, Northeast, Southeast, downtown. Only one of the four was determined by Portland police to have been at fault in the crashes that took their lives. And in keeping with the average modern-day Portlander, none of them wasborn in the city.
But even in bike-mad Portland, it can be easy to forget those
riders once had names, faces, friends and families. Aside from the memorial
rides organized in their honor, there is little public accounting of who they
were. These are their stories.
• • •
Kristine Okins was not reticent. Never. Not once. Not about baking, not about graphic design. And certainly not about
transportation. She came to Portland by boxcar, train-hopping her way from Minnesota with a pair of friends. Both of her sisters, one older and one younger, also found their way to Portland, though Mom and Dad stayed home in a town called Windom.
A graphic designer by training - she attended the Perpich Center of Arts Education and had a bachelor's from the Minneapolis College of Art & Design - she became a bicycle messenger in Portland. She loved her bike and reveled in the freedom of her job, never seriously considering owning a car.
But hers wasn't the passive enjoyment of a leisurely soft-pedal ride. Her boyfriend, Billy Bleichner, known as "Spaceman," noticed that even her wavy red hair was aggressive. "If you knew her you knew she was a real adorable badass, and also the sweetest, most gentle and sincere girl ever made," he wrote in a message at a Web site he set up in her memory.
She was a passionate bicyclist - Bleichner was a mechanic at
River City Bicycles until moving after her death to Australia; they built
a bike together - and was working when she was hit. Around 9:15 a.m. June
27, Okins, 25, was on her bike, in the bike lane,
facing south on Southwest Broadway at a red light at Washington Street, a Freightliner semitruck next to her. As always, she wore a helmet. The light turned green, both started south, and Okins darted ahead of the semi, which had in tow a 45-foot-long trailer loaded with metal. Approaching Alder Street, witnesses saw Okins and her bike under the truck, which police estimated was traveling five miles per hour. When police arrived, she was conscious and talking to paramedics. Taken to Oregon Health & Science University, her condition deteriorated rapidly. She died the next day. The driver of the truck was not charged.