Spooked by Ghost Bikes

May 15, 2014 | Bike Safety, Cyclist and Drivers, Ghost Bike
Bicycle Safety & A Ghost Bike Tribute

Dear Reader, as always please be safe on the roads…always wear a high visibility bike jersey or high vis jacket and do everything in your power to practice proper bicycle safety, so that we don’t have more unfortunate deaths on the road.

About a week ago, my buddy RAK and I were riding one of our regular loop rides north of Greensboro, NC. Just yards before we turned in to the side road where we parked, we saw it: a Ghost Bike for a rider killed a few months ago. I had read about his death but somehow didn’t put it together that he was killed on a road I regularly ride on.

I tried to imagine how it happened. It’s a straight stretch of road with a slight uphill grade, but nothing to get out of the saddle for. Traffic is generally very light, unless it’s lunch time or rush hour. He was killed by a 19 year old, driving a pickup; the driver fled rather than help the man he hit.

I was somehow more deeply affected than usual by yet another death of a cyclist by a driver. Finally I got it; this is the third time in the past few years a cyclist was killed on roads that I ride. Rather, roads I used to ride. I used to ride a loop that included Church Street; but stopped after a cyclist was killed there by another hit and run driver.

I used to occasionally ride a real short loop, when I didn’t have time for a real ride, but had to get out and do something. Then two years ago a cyclist was hit and killed on my short loop. The driver was blinded by the sun. Well, at least the driver didn’t leave the scene.

These three cyclists were killed within about a 10 mile radius, on roads that I used to ride all the time. I’ve been getting more and more skittish about riding alone, but RAK used to do it all the time.

I’m not so sure any more. The Ghost Bike really spooked us. We haven’t been able to get together to ride since the incident. I’ve ridden twice in parks and he has done the same thing once. Once he ventured out on the road, but quit after just a few miles.

As cyclists, on the roads we are totally exposed and vulnerable. If we want to continue to ride and stay alive we are going to have to find a way to assert ourselves in the campaign for bicycle safety, and get the phones turned off. The technology already exists to shut down phones in a vehicle traveling more than five mph. This is one element that can greatly improve bicycle safety. Always be prepared and wear fluorescent clothes, or a high visibility bike jersey, if you can.

Is there a way to bring all of the bike clubs in this country together to form a powerful bloc that can get things changed? We need your ideas and actions to make something happen. Please tell us your thoughts. I will be writing to all the big bicycle magazines asking for their support and leadership.

Don’t let the other guy do it. Get involved right now. And tell us what you are doing to help keep cyclists safe, and promote better bicycle safety on the roads. It’s critical. I don’t want to see any more damned ghost bikes.

Earle Bower


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