If communal grieving is a basic part of what
makes us human, Ghost Bikes are a remarkable sign of humanity. Part
political statement, part memorial Ghost Bikes are an outward sign that
the bike community cares when one of our own is struck down.
by their own effectiveness of message, Ghost Bikes have spread across
the United States and into the rest of the world to over 75 cities to
date. While remarkable such an outward expression of grief could spread
the world over, it is unfortunate that the memorials are still
spreading as cyclists become victims.
following reflections on Ghost Bikes come from the people behind each
memorial; the family and friends, the organizers who put them up and
the strangers who pass them by. –Brad Quartuccio
Visit www.ghostbikes.org for information on Ghost Bike projects around the world.
Andre’s Ghost Bike Reflections of the Love of My Life
By Audrey Anderson
A beautiful person; a beautiful life; a love so pure but one I could not secure.
was and still is the love of my life; my shinning star, the only person
I ever loved more than myself in this entire world. So when he was
abruptly taken away, my entire world was shattered. I immediately found
myself thinking and feeling that no one cared about my loss, my
sorrows, or the aches and emptiness that now reside in my heart that I
am instantly forced to live with for the rest of my life. So I started
to surf the internet for articles on cyclists killed on the streets of
New York City and I came across an article written by the Right of Way,
an organization that does street stencils of cyclist/pedestrian
fatalities. This link took me a step further and I was connected with a
group of ladies from Times Up!, the
organization that installs Ghost Bikes on the streets of NYC. Before
the passing of my son Andre I had no idea what a Ghost Bike was or of
its significance. The idea that a group of total strangers wanted to
recognize and memorialize my son was astounding. My perception that no
one cared changed immediately after our first conversation.
made plans to have Andre’s Ghost Bike installed on February 18th 2006,
what would have been his 15th birthday. It was one of the coldest days
that winter yet four caring, loving and dedicated ladies from Times Up!
came all the way to the Rockaways to honor him. I called them my
Angels. It was no easy task as the location is parallel to the Atlantic
Ocean so you can only imagine how harsh the cold breeze was on our
hands. At one point we thought it would have to be postponed but I
insisted that the sun is going to emerge from the clouds and we would
feel much better and so it did; we were all amazed. I knew it was my
Andre’s way of saying thanks.
we have a Ghost Bike that we all call Andre’s Ghost Bike. I have
developed a forever love for this Ghost Bike as I do for Andre. It is
very precious to us and is constantly cared for by his friends and
family because we consider that spot his home; the place where he took
his last breath. When we are feeling down and lonely without him we
would visit his Ghost Bike and sit around and talk just as if he was
there and everything would feel normal for that moment. Its white color
reminds us of how pure his heart was. Its stillness indicates the end
of his vibrant life. Its installation symbolizes the love of people.
Bikes are a commanding symbol that serves to inform everyone who
encounters them that the most precious gift anyone on this planet has
received, the “gift of life,” has been lost, gone forever because of
carelessness. They are a reminder that more caution should be taking
when approaching cyclists and pedestrians on the streets.
truly believe that there are angels on earth such as the ladies from
Times Up! who are eager and willing to cast their angelic touch to
broken hearts and make you want to love and live again.
RIDE IN PEACE ANDRE F. ANDERSON 2-18-91 – 9-24-2005
By Scott Mullen - www.rushinrevolution.com
Manger-Lynch may or may not have been participating in an underground
bike race when he was struck and killed on a bright February 2007
morning in one of Chicago’s infamous six-way intersections. Fault could
be assigned to him or to the motorist with whom he collided. I wasn’t
there so I won’t guess. All that remains is his Ghost Bike.
Bikes themselves exist without context…they simply mark the spot where
a life violently ended. Maybe it was driver error, or rider error, an
errant door, or just bad timing that ended the life each Ghost Bike
memorializes. But the red thread of the Ghost Bike is not simply death,
it’s death by automobile. And the irony of the Ghost Bike is that those
who can benefit most from their stark reminder of death—the motorists
that bring so much of it to our roads—are blind to these shrines. Who
has time to reflect at 40mph?
since we live in a car culture it’s this pervasive sense of futility,
the quick return to business as usual after these tragedies, that irks
me. The ceremony around Matt’s Ghost Bike was solemn, well attended,
desperate, and brought me to the edge of tears even though I’d never
met the man. I was moved both by Matt and by the knowledge that Matt’s
was not the last Ghost Bike to be placed.
to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 698 cyclists
were killed by automobile in the United States in 2007.
772 in 2006.
786 in 2005.
727 in 2004.
By Ramsey Elissa
June 8th, 2008 two avid cyclists were enjoying a ride on Camp Wisdom
Road in Grand Prairie, Texas. It was Sunday morning around 8:20am on a
part of the road that has light traffic as it is close to the lake and
surrounded by residential neighborhoods. This particular morning
Meredith Hatch and Mike Alfaro were struck by a drunk driver and killed
instantly. Several things touched me personally and have stuck with me.
The first was the memorial ride on Tuesday the gave the family a chance
to grieve with folks they knew and strangers they didn’t. Mike’s mom
approached every rider and hugged them, thanking them for their
attendance. Meredith’s family was also present and additionally thanked
everyone for the memorial effort. I did not know either Mike or
Meredith, but felt connected to them by the passion we shared.
The second thing that struck me came after the silent memorial ride that Tuesday when I went to the crash site. It was just 2 1/2
days after the accident and there was a Ghost Bike. The bike is a
reminder to anyone driving on that street of the events of June 8th.
Every time since the accident that I am in the vicinity of Grand
Prairie I stop by the Ghost Bike and say a prayer for the riders and
all families that have lost a loved one.
By Jimmy Flaherty - www.lattitudezine.com
was shock—today it’s anger. I take it personally when people in cars
run over people on bikes. Around 3:40pm on Tuesday, September 30 2008,
Jen Futrell was rear-ended by an inattentive driver on Bardstown Road
in Louisville, KY. She died in the hospital on a few days later.
I did not know Jen, her death has a significant “oh shit” factor for me
as I leave work at 3:30pm and would generally be riding this stretch of
road at that time. My sincerest condolences to all her friends, family
and community members.
October 2nd a Ghost Bike was chained to a tree near the accident site
in Jen’s honor with a gathering of riders, family and friends. As one
rider was being memorialized, another was being struck down only blocks
away in a hit and run by yet another person too concerned with
themselves to look out for their fellow humans.
I am, for lack of a better term, at a loss.
are not the answer. I don’t think prison is ever the answer for
mistakes and bad judgment. Locking someone in a cage should be a last
resort for only the most violent and malicious humans. Financial
restitution to the families of these individuals who have been harmed
or killed seems most appropriate, however impersonal. Informing people
that when these kinds of mistakes are made that their pockets will be
emptied may have a positive effect on driving habits—and likely the
cyclist population as well.
Of course, there are people who would continue undeterred. Most humans have the mindset of, “It isn’t going to happen to me.”
could be completely wrong. Mine may not be a utopian vision of everyone
giving a damn about those they are surrounded by everyday, but it seems
like a much better idea than locking more people in cages as many are
calling for. As angry as I may get at these careless drivers, I do
understand they are people too. Most drivers just don’t understand why
there are people on bicycles in the middle of the road or how to
interact safely with them. Stronger financial incentives may help.
the same time, I am well aware than many of these same drivers cannot
be reached. They drive cars for a reason, and that reason doesn’t have
anything to do with anybody else. They need to be somewhere, and they
needed to be there 5 minutes ago no matter what, so get out of the way.
of this lack of concern some motorists posses coupled with the deaths
and injuries inflicted on so many of our fellow riders, we still have
to ride. The more we’re out in the streets the more visible the riding
community is. Enjoy it while you can because you never know what
tomorrow may bring.
Be careful out there everybody. Take some responsability and ride like you mean it.
By Reverend Phil - www.bikesmut.com
was in San Diego on the Westward Ho! Bikexploitation tour when the city
was removing Atip’s Ghost Bike a day before they had agreed to do so.
Our host frantically ran out of his home, incredulous that the city was
resorting to deception. If cities continue to remove the bikes as a
nuisance (or whatever lame reason they choose) then bikers wanting to
remember their fallen friends will need to be more clever.
remember helping memorialize bikers who were maimed or killed in
Portland. We used large stencils and laid some thick white paint down
on the road. We were so worried about being seen we had a team of
lookouts with two-way radios. It is insane to think that we US
citizens, “the freest people in the world” needed too use such
subterfuge in order to say, “A friend was killed here, so please be
This was before I knew
about Ghost Bikes, which allow for more creativity, but also require
ongoing maintenance. If they are not kept fresh and pretty they become
an “eyesore” to some. Looking at a faded white bike with a rusted chain
and some dead flowers isn’t that hard on the eyes, not as compared to
the accident that brought the bike in the first place.
behavior I have tried to curb is my referring to these incidents as
“accidents.” While I generally hope that most drivers are not trying to
actively harm cyclists I feel that the automatic assumption of “best
intentions” is wrong. Spilled milk is an accident, 43,000 deaths
involving auto collisions is an epidemic.
Pittsburgh Ghost Bikes
By Michael Browne
day, we are faced with the same choice—to accept things as they are, or
attempt to change them. We certainly cannot change everything, and it
would be tough to go through life accepting everything. So it is with
great care that we choose which aspects of life to attempt to change.
story of Ghost Bikes was born from a moment when I and countless others
across the nation faced crisis in our communities and simply said, “No
more,” to the senseless violence born from deliberate and ignorant
campaign—the dedicated effort of a core group of individuals—vaulted
the concept of Ghost Bikes as we know it into the public mind.
by the original “Broken Bikes, Broken Lives” campaign by Patrick Van
Der Tuin of St. Louis, a similar awareness project in Cleveland and the
news of a friend as victim of a hit-and-run, I wrote a series of
articles in a certain Pittsburgh-based mountain bike publication. I
promised to provide the readership with a How-To and continued updates
on a larger national campaign, but quickly became sidetracked by simply
making an impact in one city.
local community bike shop FreeRide got behind the concept and brought
the necessary resources to help collect information and create the
Ghost Bikes. Together, we tracked recent collisions in the city as part
of a larger effort to supplement largely non-existant city statistics
about bicycle-related traffic violations.
With 50+ collisions on file, we picked about a dozen accident sites of personal significance.
Of the two deaths we uncovered, I followed up on one of them. A widowed, immigrant voice answered the phone.
morning. Time he always rode, and she hit him. She ran him over! The
police, they don’t care. Before church, and the woman was drunk—how
else do she end up hitting him and then driving over the curb?! You are
the only one who cares, why do the police not care like you do?
Two years later, this was the only Pittsburgh Ghost Bike that still stood as authorized by the local police department.
difference between Pittsburgh Ghost Bikes and what the national
movement is today is that our campaign was a public awareness effort,
not necessarily a collection of roadside memorials.
bikes deployed in one evening. Locked to infrastructure. Handmade
signs. A dedicated website. The Associated Press. Great photography.
The news broke on May 27th, 2004, my birthday. The greatest gift in over two decades of birthdays.
two days, those bikes lived and breathed on vibrant city streets with
people and traffic that was desperate for something more than a
billboard or the sirens of an ambulance. Louder than sirens, more
striking than catchy ad copy, those bikes did more than capture the
attention of Pittsburgh—most importantly, they turned the eye of Dan
Nephin, a cyclist riding on his way to work at the Associated Press.
Through his efforts, our story spread to London, to Tokyo, to Chicago,
to every place the AP’s beautiful, instantaneous efforts could touch.
days, our small group was fielding questions from New York, San
Francisco, Austin, asking what they could do to create their own
campaign. And thus began Ghost Bikes as we know it.
And so it goes…
with so many do-it-yourself efforts, other interests battle for
attention, and groups fragment. Such is the story of Ghost Bikes, one
of the most meaningful things of my life.
Ghost Bikes saved lives? Certainly. I can’t come close to quantifying,
but I can say that when I made the move to Madison, WI in 2007 I was
pleasantly pleased to find two yard-signs promoting Madison’s own Ghost
By Kevin “Squid” Bolger - www.cyclehawk.com
Jon was a good friend and associate for many years. His sudden death
was a big shock to our community. In the months that followed, I
realized that his positive energy was missed by more than just his
family in NYC. Seeing his Ghost Bike makes me feel him, always makes me
check my riding and realize all the little things that I am thankful
I got to know his Mom in the
days that followed; we are still in touch. I want to thank the people
who made his Ghost Bike and those who have showed it love in his name.
are here for a limited time, make the best of life and stay positive!
Stay focused when you ride, the dangers are all too real.