Greenpoint Gazette

Residents Honor Fallen Cyclists in 10th Annual Memorial Event

BY Tanay Warerkar

Cyclists killed on the streets of New York will be remembered on April 19 at an event that honors them while raising awareness of the dangers of bicycling in the city.

The 10th Annual Ghost Bike Memorial Ride will pay homage to the 20 people that were killed in biking accidents throughout the city last year.

The event is organized by Ghost Bike Project, which creates street memorials for the victims – bicycles that are painted white and locked near the crash site. Each is accompanied by a small plaque in remembrance of the victim – usually a quote or saying that best exemplifies who they were as an individual.

The project is entirely volunteer run and is currently headquartered at the Greenpoint Reformed Church on Milton Street, where the group creates the memorials to be installed ahead of the memorial ride.

“Creating and installing a ghost bike is a sad and moving process,” wrote the organizers, in a press release. “The death of a fellow bicyclist hits home, since we travel the same unsafe streets and face the same risks; it could just as easily have been one of us. Each time we say we hope to never have to do it again – but we remain committed to making these memorials as long as they are needed.”

The project was inspired by bike memorials created in St. Louis, Missouri in 2003. The movement has since spread to 200 locations across the world. It kicked off in New York in 2007, as a follow up similar memorial work already started by Right of Way and arts collective Visual Resistance, which installed the first bike in the city in 2005.

By the end of 2014, the group had installed 128 ghost bikes across the city.

The bikes themselves are usually created with recycled materials – used or discarded bikes from bike shops along with basic materials procured from a local hardware store – all together a ghost bike costs about $50 to make.

At first, the group received some pushback from the city with some memorials being removed, but in subsequent years the Department of Sanitation changed its policy in response to feedback from community members and victims’ families. A ghost bike can now only be removed if it poses an immediate threat to public safety.

In addition to memorializing cyclists, the project’s major goals are to raise awareness about largely unreported accidents, to increase respect for all commuters on the streets and to influence policies that make the streets safer for everyone.

10th Annual Ghost Bike Memorial Ride, 19 April, 12 p.m., New York City Hall, 280 Broadway, for more information visit https://www.facebook.com/events/562818727154339/.

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