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What Are Ghost Bikes?

Ghost bike.jpg

We've previously written about how dangerous Chicago's streets have been for bicyclists in 2016, and now we turn our attention to one of the aftereffects of that danger: ghost bikes. But what exactly are ghost bikes? Where are they located in the city? How do people feel about them?


Ghost Bikes: A Primer

Ghost bikes are, in the most basic sense, memorials. They are old bikes, painted completely white and placed near the location of fatal bike crashes as a way to remember the departed. In the broader sense, they are much more. They are also a show of solidarity to other bicyclists and to the families of those who have been killed while biking. The bikes serve as a reminder that other cyclists will continue to remain vigilant, and to increase bike safety awareness so that other bicyclists and other families do not have to experience the same sense of loss.

Where Are Ghost Bikes In Chicago?

The Chicago Tribune created a map of ghost bike locations in 2015, and other websites track the phenomenon on an ongoing basis. More bikes are added every year, such as the planned bike memorial for one of the cyclists killed this year.

How Do People Feel About Ghost Bikes?

For the most part, it seems that the community supports these memorials. This is especially true of the part of the population that is sympathetic toward the plight of cyclists in the city, as well as the large portion of people who bike themselves.

Support is not unanimous, though, especially as you move farther away from the center of Chicago. For example, a ghost bike memorial in Mount Prospect is scheduled to be removed (or may have even been removed while this article was being written) due to it allegedly violating city ordinances and being a "safety concern." Specifically, the police department claims that it will distract drivers and could cause an accident.

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