Mystery Solved: DOT Finds Madison Lyden’s ‘Ghost’ Bike — In Its Own Warehouse!

The bike, which the city removed ahead of last week's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, had been missing for 10 days.

Madison Lyden's friend Carolyn Bischof lights candles at the memorial bike's September installation. Photo: David Meyer
Madison Lyden's friend Carolyn Bischof lights candles at the memorial bike's September installation. Photo: David Meyer

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.

The iconic white ghost bike was installed on Central Park West in September to honor the crash victim, but it was removed by the city the weekend before Thanksgiving, as preparations began for the annual Macy’s parade.

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.”

  • dave “paco” abraham

    And lower profile memorials just get removed and never reinstalled. Franco Scorcia’s at 40th & Bway has been missing for years now. I saw it in the trash, reported it to 311, and nothing ever happened. If I were his family, I’d still be livid.

  • Concerned

    I imagine that the crowds associated with the parade would have done some damage to the bike. Kids probably would have stood on it for a better view, folks would have thrown garbage in it… To me that seems more disrespectful than temporarily removing it. I remember being in Berlin and seeing teens jumping all around the Holocaust memorial and it hurt me to see it that way.

    It seems like an okay practice to temporarily remove a memorial and return it after risk of damage has passed. If that’s an expectation that can be set, I think it would honor her memory.

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