What is a Ghost Bike

What could this term “Ghost bike” mean? Is it something related to ghosts or evil spirit or something related to horror? Hmm! not exactly…

Ghost bike is a bicycle painted in white, made to stand near places where a cyclist has been killed or badly injured by a bike or a car. In simple words, it is a kind of tribute paid to the bicyclists who were been hit on the streets which serves a s a memorial or a symbol of caution to the others of the safety of cyclists on road. In addition to the cycle, sometimes placards are placed mentioning the person for whom the memorial is kept and the cycle is normally tied up to a pole or any other object close to the spot of accident.

The first “ghost bike” idea was originated in St. Louis, at Missouri, in the year 2003 wherein a bike was painted and placed at the location of a collision which turned out to be fatal. The bike also had a message-“cyclist struck here”. This action influenced lot of people who passed by and in no time almost 15 ghost bikes was kept at various spots in St. Louis, where cyclists had been hit by motor vehicles in the recent days then. Damaged or abandoned cycles, after removing their useful parts, were painted white and used for this purpose.

Slowly similar projects started catching up in all cities like Chicago, Toronto, New York city and Seattle. Almost 40 ghost bikes were kept throughout the city of Seattle in August 2005. Apart from being a memorial, these ghost bikes were also utilized to create awareness among people about road safety, warn the locations of accidents and also the bad road conditions. There are organizations who maintain a list of ghost bikes kept at various parts of the city to draw statistics of mishaps, thereby highlighting precautions on cycling safety.

All the good intentions attached to” ghost bike” being apart, there are concerns by the transportation authorities, of city property getting utilized. Generally any parked vehicle on the sides of the roads is immediately removed. But with the cause behind such ghost bikes, the officials have drawn policies to leave these bikes for some stipulated period and then remove them. A ghost bike in Washington, to pay tribute to a rider killed by a truck in 2008, was left to remain in the spot for almost a year.

Finally it is the message which has to be reached to everyone, through these ghost bikes, that roads are to be shared, giving way to cyclists who happen to be the victims in a road tragedy with a motorized vehicle.