Strapped to the railing of the Taylor Street bridge over Highway 87 is a bicycle painted white -- a "ghost bike'' that honors Glenn Arnold Earnest, the 55-year-old bicyclist who was killed there on June 17.

Earnest's death disturbs bicyclists because it was the coldest of traffic fatalities, a hit-and-run. The police say they're looking for a late '90s early 2000s Dodge Durango or Dakota, silver gray or dirty white, that fled the scene.

"Please someone had to see it,'' says a handwritten cardboard note next to the white bike. "Whoever did this to my best friend and family, please turn yourself in. ''

Glenn Earnest -- police misspelled his name as "Glen'' in a news release -- led an ascetic life, renting a room at a house at Morse Street and Naglee Avenue, a mile or so away.

He was an even-featured Minnesota native, the middle kid of five, who grew up in International Falls, the self-proclaimed "icebox of the nation,'' where he lettered in football.

Three decades ago, with the offer of a job in the computer industry, he moved to California after getting a degree at Anoka Technical College in Minnesota.

Tech career

For a long time, Earnest enjoyed a career as a techie, spending his spare time climbing mountains. Then he lost his job. His unemployment ran out. Life veered toward the down and out.

Some years ago -- the exact date isn't clear -- Earnest was hit by a train as he wandered through a train yard. Though he recovered from his injuries, he eventually went on permanent disability that paid $1,875 per month.


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For several years, he lived with his brother, Delbert, in Minnesota. Three years ago, he headed back to San Jose with $48,000 in the bank. He liked the mountains.

"This couldn't have happened to a nicer guy,'' his brother said. "He was a quiet, friendly, trustworthy guy who loved computers.''

Despite the train accident, Earnest remained fit, preferring to ride a bike for exercise. On the Monday he died, he was heading eastbound toward the crest of the bridge at 3:25 p.m.

I know that intersection well. It's on my commute to the Mercury News. If you're a bicyclist, you essentially have to cross over the path of traffic that wants to turn south on Highway 87.

"The design isn't ideal for people on bikes,'' says Corinne Winter, the executive director of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition. "The large-radius curves that motorists use to get on and off the highway encourage high speeds.''

Fleeing the scene

The worst of this is not that the driver of the Dodge failed to pay attention: The worst is that the driver kept going. Earnest was struck hard enough that he was knocked from his shoes, his bike bent like origami.

I haven't been able to determine from the cops whether he was wearing a helmet. But his brother says a hat was found 50 feet away: He doubts Earnest had a helmet.

Glenn Earnest's death ought to unsettle not just his family and the friends who put up the ghost bike as tribute. His death ought to unsettle us all. If you know of anything, call investigators at 408-277-4654. Someone knows. And this one needs solving.

Contact Scott Herhold at 408-275-0917 or sherhold@mercurynews.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/scottherhold.