The painted white ghost bikes stationed on street corners around the city in memory of riders who’ve lost their lives are an eerie reminder of our mortality, but the idea of someone removing these street-side reality checks may be more unsettling than the spectral presence of the bikes themselves.
The removal is exactly what the Sanitation Department proposed, calling them an “eyesore,” according to the Daily News. The effort would also remove junk bikes with missing parts. If approved, it would allow a 5-day grace period for the removal of abandoned bikes, and a 30-day period for the removal of ghost bikes.
Yes, the bikes may be a bit of an “eyesore,” but is it fair to group them in the same proposal as castaway bikes with no memorial value?
The answer is no for friends and relatives of fallen bikers, for whom the measure is fueling intense grief. “This is shocking. I can’t believe it,” Lizi Rahman, whose son Asif died bicycling, told the Daily News. “I go there because that’s where he breathed last. When I go there, people see me cleaning the ghost bike. They stop and talk to me. They feel close to the family.”
Including the ghost bike of Rahman’s son, 67 have been placed around the city as part of the Street Memorial Project since 2005. And this isn’t just another New York fad. Ghost bikes are in cities around the world including Copenhagen, Dublin, Vilnius, and Mexico City.
Currently, there are no rules for discarding bikes locked on the street indefinitely. There will be a public hearing on the subject on July 20 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at 125 Worth Street, Room 819. If the proposal is passed, workers will attach warning signs to bikes whose days are numbered in September.