Street Memorial Riders Urge City Hall to Tame Traffic Now




On Sunday, January 6, over 200 people gathered to remember those killed by motor vehicles while biking and walking the streets of New York City in 2007. StreetFilms was there for the Street Memorial Project’s 3rd Annual Memorial Ride & Pedestrian Walk. So were the parents of 27-year-old Sam Hindy, who was killed trying to navigate the Manhattan Bridge by bike in November. During the event, Sam’s father, Brooklyn Brewery founder Steve Hindy, placed his son’s death in the larger culture of an American car culture gone out of control:

America is in love with the internal combustion engine. But cars, trucks and buses are killing and maiming pedestrians and bicyclists in New York City virtually every day. They are choking the street life of our city. Our thirst for fossil fuels is forcing us into horrible foreign adventures like the Iraq war.

In 2007, 23 bicyclists and over 100 pedestrians were killed by motor vehicles on New York City’s streets. City Room covered the event too.

  • moocow

    Anyone else notice the ghost bike is already gone?
    I had reason to ride by the bike 3 times yesterday, and every time I did, there was a Ped reading the signs on the bike and pole.

  • Andy B from Jersey

    A friend of mine wondered if ghostbikes are actually good for cultivating a growing bicycle culture. Trust me, my friend and I totally understand their purpose. I’ve had powerful emotional responses to the ones I’ve seen. However, did anyone ever think that the image of a ghostbike could scare people away from the idea of riding a bike in the first place?

    Just a thought. Peace.

  • rich

    andy,

    this thought has been introduced a few times. once or twice by aaron here at streetsblog. we have thought about this, and decided that the solidarity gained is so important to the movement. also, is it better to ignore the fact that 23 cyclists died in 2007, than to memorialize them? on average a pedestrian is killed every other day. the streets memorial project has been working on trying to memorialize every one of them. if we were successful, would these pedestrian memorials discourage people from walking?

    no, we thought that it was better to remember than to forget. it was better to process these deaths than to ignore them. it is better to make a powerfully human feeling come through out of a tragic crash, than to worry about scaring would be cyclists. these ghost bikes and memorials actually make the street safer, people stop and notice them. motorists can see them from their cars. families see them and feel connected to a community of concerned citizens.

    charlie k. has some amazing words on the subject that i encourage you to read. he posted them after last years ride. take a look

    thanks
    -rich!

  • In the last year or so I’ve heard at least a half dozen people cite the Ghost Bikes as a reason why they believe it is too dangerous to ride a bicycle in New York City and why they will not do so.

  • leah

    Or maybe they think it’s too dangerous because at least 23 people died riding bikes last year. Don’t blame the messenger. Biking will continue to be too dangerous for these folks until real change is made, and change doesn’t come from keeping quiet.

    Every year, someone makes this same statement, contending that ghost bikes and memorial rides are preventing potential cyclists from riding. It is inconceivable to me that people think it’s better to pretend these deaths didn’t happen. Does that make us safer? Does it stop it from happening again? Does it show respect for those we lost and those that survive them? You post the “Daily Carnage” on this blog and you criticize us for putting up ghost bikes?

    On Sunday, I heard plenty more than half a dozen people thank us for doing this, including friends and family of those lost, fellow riders, even a state senator. People traveled from other cities to ride with us. Family members of cyclists memorialized on this ride and in past years joined us, traveling alongside an array of cyclists as diverse as the city itself. The level of visibility and solidarity on Sunday’s ride is what gives me hope that the City just might someday wake up and hear what we are saying.

    Someone I cared about died this year. I won’t ever forget that. No one should. Doing this ride is the least I can do.

  • Or maybe they think it’s too dangerous because at least 23 people died riding bikes last year.

    Nope. That never came up in the three or four conversations I had with potential bike commuters who cited the ghost bikes as a reason why they choose not to ride in New York City.

    Carl, Tia, Paul and some parents of kids in my son’s daycare don’t appear to be basing their decision not to ride on an analysis of fatality statistics.

    Rather, the ghost bikes loom large for them, like a gigantic sign they walk past everyday that says, “Biking in NYC is Too Dangerous. Don’t do it.”

    This is a genuine and, apparently, not uncommon reaction to the ghost bike project among some of my peers.

    Does that make us safer? Does it stop it from happening again?

    Good questions. Do ghost bikes make us safer? Do they stop fatalities from happening again? Has a ghost bike ever convinced the city to build new and better bike infrastructure in a specific place? Do ghost bikes encourage new people to try out biking and help create “safety in numbers,” the most effective way to make a street safer for cyclists?

  • T.A. might consider a “safety in numbers” campaign. Encourage bicyclists to “clump” with others they happen to encounter who seem to be “going your way.” Convince more experienced cyclists to slow down a bit, be a tiny bit gregarious. Let everyone know that the reason is enhanced safety, not because a strange bicyclist is being inappropriately friendly. Might help build the community in addition to promoting safety.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Rather, the ghost bikes loom large for them, like a gigantic sign they walk past everyday that says, “Biking in NYC is Too Dangerous. Don’t do it.”

    This is a genuine and, apparently, not uncommon reaction to the ghost bike project among some of my peers.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think that reaction is at all inappropriate. When I saw a cyclist killed in front of my eyes in 1999, I had a very similar reaction.

    It made me realize how many people do their usual dances on the streets every day without understanding what’s at stake until it’s too late. With that knowledge, I’d rather be on the sidewalk or in a train or bus – although I know that those aren’t completely safe either.

    On the other hand, although I acquired a car a few months later in order to deal with North Carolina, I think my experience was a big factor in my decision to give up that car the following year and move back to the city. I don’t want to be an unwitting victim, but I definitely don’t want to be an unwitting perpetrator.

  • Here we go again! Aaron asks:

    “Do ghost bikes make us safer? Do they stop fatalities from happening again? Has a ghost bike ever convinced the city to build new and better bike infrastructure in a specific place?”

    It’s admittedly hard to quantify, but short answer is: yes.

    — Ghost Bikes are the single most effective project calling attention to the problem of unsafe streets.

    — By highlighting individual tragedies they lend a moral and emotional urgency to the advocacy work of TA, Streets Renaissance, etc.

    — By uniting cyclists (300 people this weekend from over a dozen organizations) they contribute to a cycling culture that builds safety in numbers.

    — By giving space and support to grieving families, they help those directly affected by unsafe streets a voice to become advocates and activists.

    I could go on, but we’ve had this conversation before. For the second year in a row, Aaron tries to argue that lame excuses from 3 of his friends outweigh the dedicated participation of hundreds of NYC cyclists.

  • Aaron, I encourage you to take a look at the “Reactions” page from http://www.ghostbikes.org. This page features people’s responses to the ghost bike project including an overheard response from a cab driver:

    “Do you ever see those bikes painted white, hanging up? That means someone died there. When I see them it reminds me to be careful for the bikers.”

    That one driver who now watches out for cyclists is a lot more powerful than your 3 friends who choose not to bike- and doing a lot more to keep us safe than droning on endlessly about congestion pricing. The solidarity experienced among cyclists on this ride is something incredibly powerful, it’s amazing to me that every year you insist on diminishing that.

  • nat

    I agree with everyone who has talked about the emotional impact of the ghost bikes, and memorial rides. On Sunday I saw a family member of one of the people we were riding for repeating to every rider she saw, “Thank you for doing this, this is so nice.” I heard her say it at least 15 times myself.

    The emotional impact that ghost bikes have for the families is huge. When the city rarely follows up with drivers who kill cyclists, and the papers let the issue slip out of public consciousness, ghost bikes and memorial rides let the families know that they are not alone, that their loved ones are remembered and missed, and that we are saddened and outraged by their death.

    Rather, the ghost bikes loom large for them, like a gigantic sign they walk past everyday that says, “Biking in NYC is Too Dangerous. Don’t do it.”

    This is a genuine and, apparently, not uncommon reaction to the ghost bike project among some of my peers.

    I would disagree with your assertion that this is a “not uncommon reaction”, as I have heard it from no one except you. But even if it was a common view, I would still support the ghost bike project.

    If being reminded of the risk you take every time you get on a bicycle in New York City is enough to stop you from riding, please don’t ever look at the statistics around car related fatalities. You may never leave your house again. A pedestrian is killed by a car every other day on average in NYC, and more cars hit pedestrians near subway stops than anywhere else. Car accidents are still the number one cause of death for people under 35 in the US.

    The truth is, with cars as a daily part of our lives any kind of travel is dangerous. Ghost bikes, and pedestrian memorials are more than just a point of unity for families, pedestrians and cyclists. They serve to disabuse people of the notion that they are at all safe in a city full of cars. They are there to make the point that these deaths are preventable.

    I would rather cry with families, and fear for my own life, than leave my house everyday thinking that I am not taking my life into my hands every time I cross the street because this city refuses to handle its car problem.

  • ln

    Installing a ghost bike memorial for a cyclist killed by a bus in the south bronx this year, neighbors couldnt believe that we would care about the death of a substance abuser they had long-known on that street. The media didnt care enough about him to learn his name; he was known on the street only by his nickname, ‘Flaco’.

    As they began to call other community members watch us put up the bike, thanked us for remembering him, and then told us how dangerous that corner continues to be, we realised that ghostbikes are about much more than the cycling community. Its about pulling all New Yorkers together to care for each other.

    In Portland, Or. 2 cyclists were killed by turning cars in the same October week this year. All the press focused on the ghost bikes for these cyclists. Today, on streets blog is a link to this article
    http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/news/1199420704323540.xml&coll=7

    A direct result of the ghost bikes and memorial rides, which kept these deaths in the public eye and forced needed infrastructure changes.

  • Ian Turner

    BicyclesOnly,

    Although the “safety in numbers” effect has been documented in a number of different ways, the mechanism is not entirely understood. One hypothesis is that when there are more bicyclists in an area over time, drivers come to expect their presence when opening doors, turning corners, etc. Of course, this kind of effect will not take place over the short amount of time such as would occur in a draft, clump, or mass.

  • You guys are a tough crowd and you make some good points.

    It should be noted that I’ve been a big fan and supporter of various memorial projects including the ghost bikes. My wife and I helped organize and fund this summer’s mural project on Baltic Avenue. We connected Groundswell to TA and various civic groups, helped convince Mark Gorton to fund the project, and threw in quite a bit of our own money.

    http://www.streetsblog.org/2007/08/31/city-promises-5m-in-ped-safety-improvements-at-mural-opening/

    Likewise, in June 2006 I worked with Noah at TA, Ryan and VR and Becky Padilla to organize a rally at Liz Padilla’s Ghost Bike in Park Slope to mark the one year anniversary of her death and calling on DOT to make the fixes they promised on 5th Avenue:

    http://www.streetsblog.org/2006/06/08/liz-padilla-memorial-bike-improvements/

    Additionally, you’ll note that Streetsblog has been and continues to be the local media outlet that highlights these memorial projects more than just about any other.

    So, I don’t think I can be written off as a Ghost Bike hater or critic. Personally, I think Ghost Bikes are a really compelling form of public art.

    Art, however, isn’t always received in the way the artist intended. And what I’m finding in conversations within my parents-with-young-children peer group is that Ghost Bikes appear to be discouraging a set of potential cyclists from getting out there and giving cycling a try.

    People start up conversations with me about bike issues because they know that I edit Streetsblog. In the last year or so, completely unbidden by me, five potential new cyclists in three separate conversations told me that Ghost Bikes send a signal to them that it is too dangerous to ride a bike in New York City.

    Hearing this same comment repeatedly in completely separate and unrelated conversations over the last year has increasingly made me question the way that we use fatalities and public memorials in our Livable Streets advocacy.

    Personally, I really enjoy cycling solidarity events and I think they serve an important function. But as an advocate, I’m less interested in making existing riders feel solid with each other and more interested in figuring out ways to get new people and new groups of people out on the street on bicycles.

    I report this not to annoy you or play devil’s advocate or present this viewpoint as a definitive fact, but because this is information that I’m receiving somewhat frequently and it is shaping how I think about these memorial projects.

    It would be interesting to go out and do some surveys to try to better understand how New Yorkers, cyclists and non-cyclists alike, receive and respond to the Ghost Bikes.

    If Ghost Bikes are an advocacy project in addition to being a public art project then, I think its somewhat incumbent on the organizers to step back every so often and take an objective look at the effectiveness of the advocacy.

    My sense, increasingly, is that Ghost Bikes may not be an effective means of convincing new people to ride in New York City.

  • I spend a fair amount of time trying to persuade members of my “parents-with-young-children peer group” to start bicycling with their kids. My pitch doesn’t include ghost bicycles, I assure you. The issue doesn’t come up, I think because people tend not to notice the bikes in Manhattan’s crowded streetscape and because the parents I know don’t tend to read Streetsblog and (as Aaron points out) they aren’t reading about ghost bikes in any other media outlet. Because of what seems to me to be a lower profile for Manhattan as compared to Park Slope ghost bikes, I don’t think they create the problem Aaron raises here.

    I wonder whether Aaron’s friends/acquaintances would have the same reaction to ghost bikes if they faced an equal or greater number of street memorials for pedestrians killed by auto.

  • Indeed, B.O.,

    My survey sample is responding very specifically to the prominently placed Liz Padilla Ghost Bike on Fifth Avenue in the Slope.

    My sense is that pedestrian memorials are a different animal since New Yorkers already do walk and will continue to walk regardless (though they may choose a different route if a memorial alerts them to danger).

  • Ian, I agree with you that “safety in numbers” is not that well understand and more research would be welcome. But at the common sense level, if a bicyclist decides to ride in the middle of the traffic lane two bike lengths behind my outer flank, that bicyclist is protecting me. A motorist is less likely to try to “squeeze through” a traffic lane I am occupying if there is another bicyclist just in front or behind me, because the time it takes to complete the maneuver safely is increased, and with the addition of each bicyclist the risk that one of them will do something unpredictable during the maneuver increases. Plus I think some motorists are less likely to buzz a group of two or three bicyclists than a lone bicyclist.

    Those are some of the reasons why I think that bicyclists make each other safer by traveling in clumps.

  • Aaron, I know we agree on the fundamentals: The best way to get more people riding is to improve the “facts on the ground.” Ghost bikes are one just one part of the larger movement for street safety.

    As public art, ghost bikes raise awareness of the need for change and argue for the urgency of that change. Their audience is much broader than that of conventional advocacy projects. They open doors which, quite frankly, public policy wonks can’t open by themselves. I mean, I don’t read StreetsBlog because I think bollards, sharrows, and neckdowns are exciting topics of conversation. I read it because I’ve been convinced that those conversations are important.

    We’re a “tough crowd” because working on these projects makes you pretty passionate. And stirring up passion around safer streets ultimately helps everyone working on these issues.

  • bike@transalt.org

    After reading through all of these comments, I am still uncertain what benefit, Aaron, your citing the anecdotal evidence of 5 of your friends accomplishes in the face of the glaringly obvious importance of the Street Memorial Project.

    But arguing aside, I am more interested in seeing a more unified cycling community. Safer streets, increased public awareness, traffic safety-education, infrastructure and policy that favors the non-car driving majority…these are all things that our diverse and passionate community is winning and will win BECAUSE we all bring our different strengths to the table.

    It really gets me down to hear the people that most need to be working together, sitting around critiquing one another. Our strength will be in continuing to grow and raise our voices in multiple styles, at different targets.

    Aaron, you don’t have to like the Street Memorial Project, nor do your 5 friends. What matters is that stand up for the value in having diverse expressions of the work that you are also committed to seeing happen.

  • flp

    speaking of “study” samples, not only is aaron’s sample focused on “parents-with-young-children,” but it is a subset of that, the park slope, er, variety – hardly a representative group of new yorkers (hardly does not even begin to cover it)!

  • ryan the girl

    Good grief. I can’t believe we have to hear these same lame comments again (and again and again). Every time there is a story about Ghost Bike memorials on this site, Aaron seems to feel the need to blast out these silly comments or stories about people who won’t ride their bikes because of the project. Come on! Really?

    First off, there is nothing scientific about any of these comments. Just like you said, there is no statistical basis for your theory. (And I have to believe that you encourage these types of comments and don’t really look for the positive reactions to the bikes. But, whatever…). Regardless of your motives or personal support of memorial projects, you give credit to an ignorant position. It is not Ghost Bikes that make the roads scary or dangerous, but the drivers and the Wild West street culture that the DOT, NYPD, and City Hall support by not cracking down on reckless behavior.

    I am sorry if people don’t want to hear the truth, but as far as I am concerned ignorance is not bliss. Bikers are killed on these streets, possibly in your neighborhood or on your commute. Blaming the messenger is not only gross, but also irresponsible. Last year you relayed the story of your friend Tia who walked to work on 5th Ave rather than ride a bike. She cited the fact that the Ghost Bike scared her too much to ride. While that anecdote is great in backing up your claim that ghost bikes discourage people from riding bikes, it does not really address the truth behind why Tia doesn’t bike. I think Tia doesn’t bike because biking in this city can be really dangerous and it is much easier to blame something like a Ghost Bike than to take a good look at the culture our behavior is creating. If there were no Ghost Bike on 5th Avenue, no collective memory of the hideous crash that took Liz Padilla’s life, would Tia really be a bike commuter. Or would the actual traffic and menacing conditions of the street scare her off her bike. Reality check; It is scary on those streets! That street in particular can be terrifying; with or without a Ghost Bike to inform the public of only one of the many deaths that has taken place on that street. Maybe these people should walk or take the subway. I would rather have an informed biking public, one that is aware of the inherent risks and dangers on the streets of their commute, than trick large numbers of people to pick up a bike and hit the streets, just to bolster numbers and hopefully make the streets safer.

    Ghost Bikes make a positive impact and are an important part in making the streets safer. I knew this in my heart the first time I saw Liz Padilla’s ghost bike and every time I help put up another one. Being involved with these memorials has changed my life, and more importantly, the way I ride. People should digest the information surrounding these fatalities and use it to more safely navigate around the city. If we are ever going to have safe and sane streets so that anybody and everybody can feel safe enough to jump on two wheels, we need to change the culture on the streets. Buffered lanes and congestion pricing will not solve anything if people in NYC don’t start taking the time to look out for each other. To change the culture on the streets, we need to engage in a critical discussion with the car driving public. So far, the ghost bike project has had the most impact with car drivers and is the most constructive step towards progress.

    It is hard to believe that you actually think that those of us behind the memorials don’t contemplate their impact, both positive and negative. We spend more time than you may realize meeting and discussing the ripple effect of our project. We understand the heavy responsibility we take on with these memorials and step back all the time to look objectively at the effectiveness of the advocacy. However, we come to a much different conclusion than you. While in the last year or so you may have heard from at least a half dozen people that Ghost Bikes are the reason why they believe it is too dangerous to ride a bicycle in New York City, we have heard from 10 times as many drivers that Ghost Bikes are the reason why they now really look out for cyclists on the road. I think it is time for you to take a step back the next time the guy at the gym says that Ghost Bikes are the reason he doesn’t ride a bike and challenge the ignorance behind that comment instead of reinforcing it. In the end, Ghost Bikes don’t make the streets dangerous, they just tell a sad true story of a NYC cyclist; One that I wouldn’t choose to ignore, even if it would trick Tia into riding her bike “safely” down 5th Avenue.

  • Jonathan

    bike@transalt.org : yes, it’s indeed “glaringly obvious,” so why not give either Ghost Bikes or the Street Memorial Project a mention on TA’s bicycle advocacy web page?

  • MJ

    Aaron, if you’d stuck around long enough the day we fixed up Liz Padilla’s bike on 5th Ave, one year after her death, you would have met over 10 people who live in the neighborhood, who did not know Liz personally, who stopped on the street to thank us about about what we are doing, and help fix up the bike. Including one man driving a car. If that is not raising awareness, I don’t know what is. Calling attention to dangerous areas is important to the people who live in those neighborhoods, when policy fails to change things at a faster rate. You yourself said that you helped sponser the 3rd Ave mural- a memorial honoring 3 young CHILDREN. What do your friends think about that? A memorial that is several stories high? If anything a memorial is a good way to warn people the roads are unsafe no matter if we walk or bike.

  • Has anyone considered putting up some sort of “ghost pedestrians” as well as “ghost bikes”? That would show people that this is not just an issue for bicyclists: drivers threaten everyone.

  • ryan the girl

    In defense of TA, they are one of the biggest supporters of the ghost bike project. I believe that bike advocacy page refers specifically to solely TA projects. Since this is not just a TA project, it does not really belong on that page. However, if you cruise around the site, there are plenty of links to the project. I don’t think we should be picking at little things like that….besides, if it was on the page, there would be people screaming that TA was trying to take credit for the project. Either way, TA cant catch a break!

  • Charles: yes. Pedestrians were included in this year’s and last year’s memorial rides. See Street Memorials and Visual Resistance.

  • Larry Littlefield

    (Has anyone considered putting up some sort of “ghost pedestrians” as well as “ghost bikes”?)

    Roadside memorials to dead drivers have become increasingly common in the south, I’ve read, and have become an issue with highway departments. I’m told they are based on a Mexican custom of marking the spot where a loved one died.

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-07-11-roadside-memorials_x.htm

    That’s why I like the weekly carnage. It make you think twice.

  • nat

    Charles Siegel,

    The Street Memorials Project also puts up plaques for pedestrians hit by cars. More info here:

    http://streetmemorials.org/

    It is a really hard project to stay on top of because the number of pedestrians killed by cars in the city is so much higher than that of cyclists. There are also many more “unknown” pedestrians than cyclists. Finding out where and when these fatalities take place is really hard since not every death is reported. We do not have solid numbers for 2007 yet.

  • MJ

    Mr. Siegel,
    Honoring pedestrians is part of the Street Memorials Project, you can read more about it above…

    Also a few more of my own thoughts about being a biker and a pedestrian that I’ve learned over the last few years:
    1. Wearing a helmet won’t save my life if I am run over by a truck, suv, or am doored
    2. Biking and walking on the greenways and bike paths do not protect me if drivers continue to use them as entranceways or parking spaces
    3. Unsafe construction areas impede upon my safety
    4. Drunk drivers remain on the roads

    All of these issues, do not stop me from riding and walking. I know that I take my life into my own hands every time I head out onto streets. The sad reality is that our streets are not safe. Countless pedestrians die each year. I don’t blame people for being afraid to get on a bike or walk down the street. People should be afraid, or at least have an awareness about dangers that exist. We can’t have a false sense of security, that is a major weakness. That’s why we are fighting to change things. Being naive will not save us. When I see a ghost bike or pedestrian memorial, I know that something has happened, a person was killed, I feel that loss, I know it could have been me. If I ignore that fact, then I am only hurting myself. Seeing ghost bikes and pedestrian memorials on the street remind me not to make my own foolish choices, such as riding in crosswalks or running red lights, jaywalking, talking on my phone while traveling, or standing too far from the curb as vehicles whiz by. I know that the way I travel through this city affects everyone I pass by. Memorials remind me to respect my fellow travelers.

  • bmd

    People respond to death and dying in very different ways and it makes perfect sense that ghost bikes evoke fear in some people.

    Were the ghost bikes and memorials simply a political campaign this should raise a red flag, but my understanding is that the essence of this project is about honoring and memorializing the victims. If the water is getting cloudy on that fact, maybe we should step back and remind ourselves that any agenda, no matter how well-intentioned, is peripheral to the experience and wishes of the victims’ family and friends.

    There are a lot of scary things that happen in the street, but is collective art, reclaimed street space and a memorial really so terrifying?

  • Niccolo Machiavelli

    I’ve always considered myself a friend of Aaron’s. How can it be that there are four others? Doesn’t anyone question that Aaron may have as many as six friends? Once again this blog is playing fast and loose with numbers.

  • If you read Aaron’s comments very carefully you will see that he is not actually claiming he has any friends.

  • Indeed, this entire thread clearly shows why I claim to have no friends. I’m too willing to alienate my base.

  • Clarence Eckerson

    Usted es mi amigo!

  • bike@transalt.org

    It is rather timely that i have come across two print articles contemplating the efficacy of “collective art, reclaimed street space and memorials” in the past day:

    http://backspace.com/commarts.pdf

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/10/us/10bike.html?ex=1357621200&en=ac67a485691151b7&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&pagewanted=all

    it is also always nice to check here for the growing list of reactions to ghost bikes in NYC: http://www.ghostbikes.org/reactions

    as people who care passionately about these issues, we all have the power to turn all of the conversations we have about street memorials into advocacy for public (person-by-person style)engagement in making our streets safer for all who use them.

  • i have stopped and spoken to many people that were viewing a ghost bike and explained what occurred at that location. None has expressed to me the thought that they would not ride a bicycle in NYC due to the dnager and memorial reminder. i have also been involved with the street memorial project for the peds that are killed. The pedestrians passers by at these memorials remarks have been how important it is to calm the traffic, not how they were not going to ride their bikes or not walk on that section of Houston street.
    While driving in the yonkers area, I pass by a roadside memorial to a driver that was killed when he blew the changing red light. I know all the details of the collision, he was rushing home with a birthday cake for his wife birthday. I am never tempted to try to make the yellow there anymore. His family is hoping the same, they hope that memorial will be a reminder to slow down, don’t do it, life is fragile and it can end too soon.

  • bike@transalt.org

    I wanted to let everyone know about a call I received from State Senator Serrano’s office today. His staffer had just read the NYT’s article about ghost bikes and bike boxes in Portland.

    It prompted him to call me and initiate a discussion about beginning some bike-related initiatives in the Bronx.

    I thought this was a very positive response to ghost bikes that was worth sharing on this thread.

    And with that, I will sign off.

  • We just received the following story from David Smith’s ghost bike sponsor:

    This morning while I was checking on David’s bike, a woman that witnessed the accident stopped to talk to me. She asked me if I knew
    David, and I explained that I did not, that I was volunteering for the Street Memorials Project to help maintain the bike. She said she will never open a car door again in the same way, and that walking past David’s bike was a daily reminder.

  • Andy B from Jersey

    WOW!!

    I can’t believe the firestorm my original comment way back at #2 created. However, I found all of the responses very informative and insightful so don’t please feel like it was a wasted argument since it was covered a year before.

    I’d also like to thank Aaron for being willing to stick his neck out a little on this and take the unpopular side in this arguement. I think there is validity in his concerns but from all that I read (and I mean ALL), I’ve personally conluded that Ghostbikes and the other Street Memorials are ultimately good for the cause.

    Thanks to all,

    Andy B

  • Considering the logic proposed by Aron’s statements above
    Im going to propose a new project, cars painted white installed on every corner a car accident has happened.
    I think motorists will abandon their vehicles when they realize that they are at risk everytime they get behind the wheel. In the end we will have scared everyone out of cars.

  • On a different note,
    if someone is frightened enough by a ghost bike to not ride, then that is potentially positive too. Everyone points out a fact, the streets are dangerous the way they exist now. If the scared person(s) are then becoming pedestrians then they avoid becoming a bike fatality, their fear saved their life, from car/bike related accidents.
    Yet, i’d like to point out, if they decide to drive, then they will have the memory/consciousness of how FRIGHTENED they are of cycling in NYC, which raises the potential of them looking out FOR cyclists, on NYC streets.

    I do not feel any anger or frustration towards aaron, it is healthy to debate such matters. Its necessary to say when the benefits of a campaign outweigh the things considered problematic.
    Is this discussion really about improving the Mem Project or just to illustrate that people find it scary?

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On Sunday, the NYC Street Memorial Project held the 6th Annual Memorial Ride and Walk. According to the New York City Department of Transportation, 151 pedestrians and 18 bicyclists were killed on the streets of New York City in 2010. Participants called for stronger measures to reduce traffic fatalities. The ride culminated by installing a “Ghost […]

3 More Killed This Weekend as 100 Rally for Pedestrian Safety

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Against the backdrop of news that three more pedestrians were killed on Saturday, a hundred people rallied for pedestrian safety on the steps of City Hall on Sunday. Karla Quintero of Transportation Alternatives, above, started with a moment of silence for those killed by the automobile on the streets of New York and called for 2,000 fewer pedestrian […]

An Open Letter to NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly

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This letter originally appeared this month in Transportation Alternatives’ magazine, Reclaim. Author Steve Hindy is a member of the T.A. Board of Directors. He and his wife, Ellen Foote, became advocates of safer streets after their son Sam was killed in a bicycle crash on the Manhattan Bridge in 2007. Rasha Shamoon was struck riding […]