Here in Seattle, many residents have seen white memorial bicycles placed at the scene of fatal bicycle accidents. Residents may not be aware that these memorials, called Ghost Bikes, are showing up all over the world.
The bikes are generally spray painted white and left near these accident scenes in order to remember the victims as well as remind passersby of the constant struggle between bicyclists and motor vehicles to share the roads.
Annually, hundreds of bicyclists die in the U.S. in accidents with motor vehicles. Thousands more are injured, according to the U.S. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2010, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 618 cyclists were killed and 52,000 were injured.
More than 70 percent of the bicycle fatalities in 2010 happened in urban areas, like Seattle.
Ghostbikes.org is a website that is dedicated to chronicling the white bike memorials. The powerful site includes links to stories about victims and photographs of memorials.
The website shows that various places treat the memorials differently. Sometimes, the white bikes are smashed with a sledgehammer to show wreckage, and in South America the bikes are hung above the ground.
In Seattle, a bike-friendly city, it sure would be nice if we did not need ghost bikes--if everyone could share the roads peacefully and be mindful of each others' safety. Unfortunately, negligent and distracted drivers are the cause of terrible bike accidents far too often.
When someone is injured or killed in a bicycle accident, victims or their survivors may be able to recover compensation for related expenses.
Source: Associated Press, "'Ghost bikes' rise at scenes of fatal bicycle-car crashes as tributes to those who died," Allen Reed, Aug. 7, 2012