It only took 10 days, but the city finally solved the case of Madison Lyden's missing memorial bike — and city officials promise to do the right thing and return it to its rightful place at the scene of her death.
Unsurprisingly, then, the memorial's disappearance caused an uproar. The death of the 23-year-old Australian tourist in August was a major news event — warranting a crime scene visit by Mayor de Blasio and spurring calls for a protected bike lane on the corridor. The mayor has done nothing since, so the removal of the memorial shrine to Lyden felt like a yet another slap in the face to not only Lyden's memory, but to the thousands of pedestrians and cyclists who are injured by cars every year in this city who don't get remembered or protected.
Nine days of radio silence from the local police precinct and other city agencies only added to the outrage.
On Tuesday, DOT officials finally located the bike — after entreaties from local advocates, Streetsblog and Council Member Helen Rosenthal. The bike had been removed ahead of last week's Thanksgiving Day Parade and put in a warehouse on Manhattan's East Side, agency spokesperson Chris Browne said.
The bike will be made available to activists, who can return it to its original location on Central Park West across the from 66th Street, Browne added.
Going forward, it's not entirely clear whether the city has a good plan for ghost bikes that don't have the support of persistent advocates. The Lyden memorial appears to have been removed and relocated in accordance with the city's typical practice for derelict and illegally parked bikes, according to Transportation Alternatives Manhattan organizer Chelsea Yamada, who helped lead the search.
"Other ghost bikes around the city don’t have this much high-profile attention," Yamada said. "Next year, when this happens, who’s going to be there to remember to save the bike?"
Sanitation crews know not to remove "ghost" bikes, but the memorials must be maintained by whoever installed them. Advocates from TransAlt and the NYC Ghost Bike Project are working on a plan to ensure the bike doesn't do missing for next year's parade.
"Next Thanksgiving, it’s the same thing," said Rosenthal spokesperson Sarah Crean. "It has to be taken off or taken away."
Born and raised in Washington, D.C. and Maryland, David fell in love with journalism as a kid accompanying his reporter dad on stories while school was out. A reporter at Streetsblog from 2015 to 2019, David returned as Streetsblog Deputy Editor in 2023 after a three-year stint at the New York Post. A graduate of Montgomery Blair High School and the University of Maryland, he lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.