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Memorial for pedestrians killed by cars

January 10, 2007

Right: A memorial for Peter Hornbeck, a friend of a friend. Pete was killed January 10, 2004, when a driver going close to 100 miles an hour ran him down in the intersection of Park Ave. & 96th St. The driver abandoned the car and fled the city. He was later caught and sentenced to several years in prison.
I didn’t know Pete but I know a friend of his. We worked together on this memorial and installed it during yesterday’s second annual memorial bike ride for cyclists and pedestrians killed in New York.
After 19 months of installing ghost bikes for slain cyclists around New York, this is the first memorial we’ve created for a pedestrian. In 2006, 135 pedestrians and at least 14 cyclists were killed by motor vehicles in the five boroughs.
We tried to come up a simple visual icon (like the white bikes), but couldn’t come up with any one symbol that seemed appropriate. In Bogota, Colombia, a simple black star is stenciled onto the sidewalk, but that didn’t seem right. The traditional “chalk outline” seemed too gruesome. Suggestions are welcome. Email us at


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8 comments on “Memorial for pedestrians killed by cars”

It is lovely just the way it is. Here In Louisiana you see white crosses with flowers by the road all
time. They are put up for people killed in car accidents.

I had the same thought as Eduardo–white shoes. (Could be sneakers for a jogger, for example.) Not to be too gruesome, but the one time I saw someone hit by a car he was literally thrown out of his shoes, and I never forgot that visual of his empty loafers.

My son, a native New Yorker, was the victim of an SUV hit-and-run in
Los Angeles in 1998.
I am so very gratified that you are doing these memorials here in New York City.
People NEED to be made aware of these deaths.
If you know of any group doing similar installations in L.A., please let me know.
Thank you for all you are doing.

I too like the bird cutout. However, it might be too large for every memorial. Perhaps a stenciled white sneaker, spoked bicycle wheel, or star can work when the larger memorial won’t work.
Late last year, my daughter moved to Brooklyn and works in the city. Recently, she told me how many pedestrians, cyclists, etc. are killed on the streets there. Here in El Paso we have the problem of DUIs running down and killing WUI (walkers under the influence), children backed over by Hummers, the elderly trying to cross the road, and cyclists in town and along nearby rural roads. Keep the faith so that maybe people will one day get the idea–it’s all over when you least expect it.
In this part of the country, there are many crosses, flowers, and permanently installed memorial headstones at the place where a person was killed by a vehicle. Latin/Hispanic in design, these descansos help us remember. and

My best friend, Dan, was hit and killed by a pickup truck as he was crossing a country road, trying to hitchhike to a gas station after running out of gas.
This wasn’t the driver’s fault. Dan was wearing dark clothes, walking on a dark road in the fog. The driver didn’t see him until it was too late.
Put reflective material on your gas can! On your friends’ gas cans!

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