Ghost Bikes Ride On

Dirt Rag
126, February 2007

On an unseasonably warm January day, hundreds of cyclists crisscrossed New York City en masse to memorialize 14 fellow cyclists, and 134 pedestrians, killed by motorists in 2006. Planned by Time’s Up! and Transportation Alternatives, the ride’s route took us to many of the “ghost bikes” erected across the city at crash sites, vivid memorials for those who have died on the streets.

The ride was perhaps at its most somber when I joined it at the eastern edge of Brooklyn, where 11-year-old José Mora was killed on his way to get a haircut before his first day in a new school. Ryan Kuonen, a Times Up! volunteer and a leader of the ride, described our purpose: to remember the victims, to express our sadness and rage at the city government’s failure to ensure safe passage for cyclists and pedestrians, and to raise awareness of the grave danger reckless drivers pose.

Several ghost bikes and many tears later, when we entered Manhattan and various contingents from around the city came together, the number of participants grew to the hundreds. The turnout showed just how deeply the community cares about raising awareness of the culture of disrespect that pervades the relationship between motorists and cyclists in our city. As cars honked, swerved, and zoomed through red lights near us, I could not help but feel despair at the seeming insurmountability of changing this culture. Yet, I was encouraged by the many bystanders and motorists who cheered us on as we passed—one young boy jumped and shrieked as if the Tour de France peloton were rolling by. I hope that this memorial ride, which brought together friends and strangers alike, will have made the streets safer for that boy’s, and all cyclists’, future.

© 2017 Stuart Schrader