Saturday, January 3, 2009

Ghost Bikes

Ghost Bikes are junk bicycles that are spray painted white and locked to a post close to where a cyclist was killed or seriously hurt by a vehicle. A handmade plaque is attached and flowers adorn the bike. They are intended as a stark reminder for passing motorists to share the road. Ghost bikes are usually erected by bicycle advocacy groups such as Winnipeg's Bike To the Future. The Ghost Bike concept originated in San Francisco in 2002 as an art project, but the Ghost Bike Memorial Project evolved from an incident in St. Louis, Missouri in October 2003. After witnessing a cyclist being killed by a vehicle, Patrick Van Der Tuin placed a white bike next to the spot with a hand painted sign reading "Cyclist Struck Here". It was his way of expressing grief for what he had witnessed. The project has since spread to major cities throughout the world. Our city's first and only Ghost Bike is located close the Old Market Square in the Exchange District (not sure if it's an art project or memorial). Like many of you, I've noticed the bike, but I didn't understand the significance until last evening at a family gathering when the discussion arose. Toronto has four Ghost Bikes, Edmonton has seven.
Why 'bike talk' on a runners' blog?
I straddle the two communities, running and cycling, and both groups need frequent reminders to ride safe, to run safe. To my cycling friends and my running friends ...be careful out there, don't become a ghost. To the motorists, share the road and ... do the test.
M
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