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Ghost bikes go worldwide

February 5, 2006

In the past few weeks, ghost bikes have appeared in at least three new cities across the world.
Chicago, Illinois
The Chicago Ghost Bike project created a memorial at the end of the January 27 Critical Mass ride for Isai Medina, whose home-made ‘freak bikes’ were a fixture in the local bike scene. A chopper bike painted all white was locked to a bike rack on the corner of Cortez and Western where Isai was killed by a drunk driver on January 4th.
Over 400 people attended the memorial ride, and police made four arrests as people gathered for the stationary memorial. The ride and ghost bike received lots of press attention: you can read the press release here, in addtion to coverage from Chicago Indymedia, La Raza, the Chicago Journal, and NBC5. See also Don Sorsa’s photo gallery and the video of the NBC5 story (slow-loading MP4 file).
Tallahassee, Florida
Critical Mass riders in Tallahassee placed two ghost bikes for Dale Burton, who died October 30, 2005 after a driver hit him from behind, and Maxwell Veira, killed November 15, 2005 when an SUV cut him off as he was riding downhill. In addition to the standard plaque and white bike, the Tallahassee memorials included a beautiful stencil of a ghost biker ascending heavenward. According to TallyCat.org, one of the memorials has already been removed. The memorials garnered a positive article in the Tallahassee Democrat, and support from members of the victims’ families.
Prague, Czech Republic
Bike activists created a large memorial for Jan Bouchal, coordinator of Auto*Mat, an advocacy group for Prague cyclists and pedestrians, and a contributing group to our Critical Mass Art project. Steven Loga, a co-editor for Car Busters magazine, wrote in the Prague Post:

On Jan. 6, Jan Bouchal, coordinator of the Auto*Mat project and chairman of Oživení, both of which promote cycling, was cycling home from his work in Malá Strana. A car struck him at the intersection of nábřeží kapitána Jaroše and Dukelských hrdinů in Prague 7. Six days after the accident, the 30-year-old died. . . .
The outline of Jan Bouchal’s body is no longer there, wiped away by snow and the heavy traffic that edges along this Prague embankment. Instead, at the site of the accident there is a monument — a small, white bike, a ghost bike, placed there after the monthly Critical Mass bike ride Jan. 19, part of the memorial evening. Almost 100 cyclists met at Jiřího z Poděbrad on the cold evening, only a few days after a snowstorm, and slowly rode through the city to the accident site, where another 50 people were waiting, crowded onto the traffic island. The ghost bike sits on that island, chained to a pole and surrounded by candles and flowers, with a sign that reads: “Zde srazilo auto cyklistu” — a car struck a cyclist here.

Chicago, Tallahassee, and Prague now join at least seven other cities with known ghost bike projects: London, Pittsburgh, Portland OR, Seattle, Highlands Ranch CO, San Francisco, and New York City.
We’re currently working on a zine about our ghost bike project and would like to hear from people involved in similar projects in other cities — the zine will be printed in time for Bike Month in NYC and distributed to artists and bike activist groups around the country. Let us know if you’re interested in receiving copies or contributing. Thanks!

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