Ghost Bikes memorialize accidents

Ghostbikeeee A Ghost Bike is a white-painted bike that is placed at a location where a cyclist has been hit. According to an old post on bello velo, this photo depicts the first Ghost Bike, memorializing an accident on Holly Hills Boulevard in St. Louis, Missouri. It was created by Patrick Van Der Tuin who saw a cyclist hit by a car. A few days later, he and his friends locked several bikes at locations where he knew cars had collided with cyclists. Since then, the meme has spread nationwide. is a clearinghouse of Ghost Bike installations and photos of the sites. Link to, Link to bello velo (via CT2)


  1. Being a strong cycling evangelist it seems that while it might make a few drivers more aware of cyclists when driving, it would also discourage them from switching to “one of those dangerous bicycles”. One less car or SUV is one less that can mow me down so I would rather encourage a conversion.

  2. I saw a white bike like that in Oxford, at the corner of Broad Street. But it was in the UK and it didn’t have a sign, though, so it was probably something else entirely.

    It’s a nice idea. Here’s hoping the bikes don’t get removed by the cities.

  3. depending on the municipality and who owns the property, some get taken down while others don’t. in Chicago, we put up ghost bikes for everyone in the community that dies while riding. the dept. of streets and sanitation will remove them if they’re locked to things like light posts or bus stops, but will leave them if they’re locked to bike racks (plentiful here) or private property. the Illinois DOT has a standing policy to not remove memorials, so anything under say, an overpass won’t be touched.

    and generally, the bike used is donated, not the bike involved in the death. the parts will be welded to deter theft. some have signs, some don’t

  4. nice idea, but here’s to hoping they don’t distract drivers and take their eyes off the road…

  5. There was a cyclist who was killed on my campus around this time last year — one of these “ghost bikes” appeared as part of the memorial on the sidewalk (, and it was eventually removed, I assume by the school. On the anniversary of his death this month, a new bike appeared on the sidewalk, and I think it has already been removed.

    It was a strong reminder, and I think it helped even non-cyclists/drivers to be more aware of road safety, especially when placed at one of the busiest intersections on campus. It’s interesting and somewhat sad to note how quickly these bikes were removed, though, when there are mangled and decrepit bikes chained all over campus that have been there almost as long as I have.

  6. Do the problem drivers even see the white bicycles? Isn’t the issue that they’re oblivious to everything outside the car?

  7. on my old bike commute from Oak Square in Brighton to Kendall Square in Cambridge, a young (high school or college age) girl was struck by a motorist in the heart of Allston, probably one of the densest populations for college kids in Boston.

    a ghost bike accompanies her real bike, as well as a HUGE amount of photographs, well-wishes and other memorabilia.

    for almost a year after (and maybe still to this day), someone would go to the chainlink fence nearby and stick in plastic cups spelling out YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.

    i don’t know how well this sort of thing reminds drivers on Boston’s crowded streets to give what little room they can (most drivers have been pretty good, actually, but we have a pretty high bike population in nice weather). however, this sort of memorial definitely gives the community something to grab onto and it always made me pause inside and reflect a little and remember whenever i had the temptation to skid through red lights because i felt i could make it.

  8. Good idea. Quite poetic. Anything that makes drivers realize that bike riders have a right to road space is good.

  9. I think that this is a nice idea, but it doesn’t address the real problem. Police need to step up traffic enforcement nationwide. Tailgating, running red lights, and other dangerous behaviors are becoming commonplace and everyone, cyclist or not, needs protection.

  10. I live 2 blocks from where that picture was taken and ride by it very often. Never noticed the bike there. But at the time I may have still been living in San Francisco.

    The area is definitely getting more bike-friendly. But only if you are on the few streets with bike lanes. I haven’t seen much outright aggression lately; but it’s obvious some people still don’t know how to react around cyclists. Or that we have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicles.

    First I’ve heard of this project. I support it’s intentions. Hopefully there won’t be a need for the ghost bikes. But that the message is received loud and clear for any that are out there.

  11. No thank you. I for one do not want to see more clutter messing up the landscape. It’s too bad someone died, but do we need to turn the whole world into a giant junky memorial? How about one nice one in a park. It could be an angle riding a bike, or whatever.

  12. As a cyclist in NYC (though I’m off the bike for a few weeks, since on Sunday I got hit by an SUV while walking across the street — in the crosswalk, walking with the light!) I’ve been aware of this campaign for awhile. I was really grossed out by DKNY’s usurpation of this campaign for their Fashion Week stunt:

    I and my fractured tibia can vouch that motorists in this city are totally insane… you really, really can’t be careful enough. On the positive side, my convalescence will finally provide me with some time to blog —

  13. @#13 posted by Jeff

    ‘…more clutter messing up the landscape.’

    well, technically everything that’s asphalt or on top of asphalt is litter…

  14. @#13 posted by Jeff

    Jeff, once again this is to DRAW attention to the issue, putting something in a park where it is NOT seen does not DRAW attention to the issue.

  15. I’ve seen these all over Santa Cruz and had no idea they were considered a meme – people are quite vigilant about bike accidents here, so there is one of these up within hours of the accident, although the only ones I know of memorialize fatalities, not just hits.

  16. thanks for this post. I used to walk by one of these on 3rd Ave. between 17th and 18th st. in NYC all the time. I always wondered what it was there for (only had some artificial flowers adorning it, no sign saying who it’s for) and it never occurred to me that it might be a memorial. I’m not sure if it’s still there. I’m out of town now, so I’ll have to check when I get back to the city.

  17. These bikes appeared in Seattle and I, for one took notice. I like the fact that motorists like myself are made aware of our ability to prevent accidents. Now I hope people stop trying to kill my dog and me while walking in the crosswalk with the walk signal. Greta #14, get well soon!!!

  18. I think these are poignant. Greta, heal well and good blogging.

    Two days ago, crossing the street at a crosswalk leaving my school, one of my cadets was hit by a car. She was crossing at the appropriate time, but the light was nearing a change; she was still in the street when some mother, with her high school student in the car, decided that she simply could not miss that green light, and the little girl in the way was simply going to have to deal with her several broken bones and battered limbs.

    She’s at the hospital still.

  19. I hate “memorials” because they’re tacky and so melodramatic.

    When I was earning my masters, a girl was hit by car on campus, and her friends built an overly large memorial on the sidewalk, near the site, including a giant sign reading “SLOW DOWN!!! YOUR CAR KILLED OUR FRIEND!” Of course the irony of blocking the sidewalk, and thus causing people to walk in the street was apparently lost on these people.

    Recently in my town a guy on a bike got hit by car. Which of course lead to a ghost bike and giant signs reading “We ARE traffic!” Watching the bicyclists ride, they regularly disobey the traffic laws. Apparently traffic laws only should be enforced when it’s convenient. Yeah, it’s a tragedy that someone got killed, but to reflexively blame the car, is absurd.

  20. I agree with Antinous, that the people who hit bikers are not going to notice a ghost bike. They are too busy talking on their cell, putting on makeup, reading, texting, eating, whatever. Maybe the cops could start pulling more idiot drivers over and telling them that a car is not an office or a kitchen or a bathroom. Also, I’ve seen a lot of bikers do stupid things on the road. I’m a biker.

  21. San Francisco used to have billboards that read, “I’m sorry that I hit your grandma but I didn’t want to spill my latte.”

  22. In New Zealand we have developed a convention that commemorates road deaths with a white wooden cross at the site of a fatality. This seems similar to me, and the novelty value (the “what the f*** is that?” reflex) should make them pretty effective.

    The hard part of this exercise is getting locations etc from the local police or city council.

  23. Gregor Kiwi, cultivate EMTs. They know where it happens.

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