Memorial outlines bike death
BY ELIZABETH HAYS
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
A 10-speed bicycle, spray-painted ghostly white and a tombstone-like plaque have been erected at the Park Slope corner where a biker was recently crushed by a truck.
The eerie memorial – called a “Ghost Bike” – is part of an informal web of similar projects that have been slowly popping up across the country at deadly bike crash sites.
“It’s a quiet statement in support of bikers’ rights for safe travel,” said Eliot, a 24-year-old artist from Clinton Hill, who installed the memorial after dark one night last week.
Eliot – who declined to give his full name because, as he put it, “I’m sure it’s illegal” – said he did not know Elizabeth Padilla, the 28-year-old cyclist, but he felt personally moved by her death.
“I’ve been in close calls riding to work just like she was,” added Eliot, a member of a group called Visual Resistance. “A split-second difference and someone could be painting a bike for me.”
Padilla, a public-interest lawyer, was killed instantly June 9 on Fifth Ave. near Warren St. when the driver of a parked truck opened his door, causing her to swerve and fall under a moving truck.
Eliot said he heard of the growing Ghost Bike trend from a friend in Pittsburgh, where bike advocates have installed similar memorials. It is thought to have started in St. Louis.
Other cities, such as San Francisco and Seattle also have seen the unsettling, all-white bikes pop up on their streets.
“I don’t know if it’s happened before in New York City,” said Eliot. “I thought it would be a nice and respectful memorial to do.”
Bike advocates with Transportation Alternatives said they thought similar memorials may have been erected in the city in the past, but perhaps only temporarily.
“Anything that draws more awareness to the problem is a good thing,” said Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White.
So far this year, nine cyclists have been killed by cars or trucks – a 50% jump from last year, according to police statistics released by Transportation Alternatives.
Eliot said he hopes he has no reason to continue the Ghost Bike project.
“I’d like to say that we’ll never do it again, but we may have to,” he said.
Related: Ghost Bikes.