Ghost bikes in New Orleans
I've seen all-white bikes staged around town in seemingly random places. Some are decorated and others aren't. Is this an interactive public art project?
The people behind those white bicycles no doubt will appreciate your asking about them, but probably prefer they'd never have to put them there. That's because these "ghost bikes," (See "Last rides," June 21, 2015) as they are called, are memorials to bicyclists killed or hit on the street. They also are designed to raise awareness of the risks cyclists face on our streets and call attention to the need for drivers to better share the road.
According to www.ghostbikes.org, the first of these memorials was created in St. Louis in 2003. It's hard to pinpoint when the first one appeared in New Orleans, though more of the tributes have popped up as the number of bicyclists involved in fatalities has risen.
"Any time you ride by this (a ghost bike memorial), you're going to notice it," Steven "J.P." Pool told WWL-TV in March 2015. He is a member of the Bad News Bike Club, which has posted ghost bikes at several local spots where bicyclists have been killed. The memorial bikes are painted white and bear the name of the person who died. Often there are flowers or other tributes attached to the bike, which is chained to a light pole or object near the crash site. The Bad News Bike Club is behind one of the most recent ghost bike tributes (pictured), placed in the 2900 block of Leon C. Simon Drive in March to remember cyclist Monique Massey, the victim of a hit-and-run.
For more information about the club's work, visit its Facebook page. The nonprofit advocacy group Bike Easy also has a website (www.bikeeasy.org) dedicated to improving traffic safety.