First press coverage of the "Ghost Bike" movement

Original Ghost Bike Installation on Holly Hills Boulevard
Since starting in St. Louis in October 2003, the Ghost Bike movement has gain momentum. Ghost Bike projects have sprouted up in Wisconsin, Seattle, Chicago, New York, Kansas City, and many other places. Wikipedia has an article about the Ghost Bike phenomenon.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch first covered Patrick Van Der Tuin's Ghost Bike project in November 2003. That article has disappeared from the Post-Dispatch's archives but it reproduced in its entirety below.

Patrick's original Broken Bikes-Broken Lives page is here. Photo of the original Ghost Bike on Holly Hills Boulevard, dated 28 October 2003, is here.



St Louis Today
Roadside displays focus on plight of bicyclists

Published: Monday, Nov. 17 2003

Bicycling enthusiasts locked 15 mangled bikes to street lamps and sign posts in the area where riders where struck by cars.

By Greg Jonsson Of the Post-Dispatch

When Patrick Van Der Tuin saw another cyclist hit by a vehicle while riding in a bike lane on Holly Hills Boulevard a few weeks ago, it was the final straw.

He decided the time had come for an idea that had been in the back of his mind for a while. So one night, a twisted bike, painted ghostly white and sporting a "Cyclist Struck Here" sign, appeared at the site where the woman was struck. The bike was removed within a few days, but Van Der Tuin thought it had an impact.

"Passing it every day, I could see the reaction from drivers," said Van Der Tuin, 24. "People were slowing down in this residential neighborhood, and that amazed me."

A picture of the mangled bike also went up on the Internet, and the Web site quickly recorded more than a thousand hits. Clearly, the idea struck a chord with other cyclists, he thought.

Sunday night, Van Der Tuin and a few other bicycle enthusiasts took the experiment a step further. They set out just after dusk with several mangled cycles on the bike rack on his car. Stopping at intersections where he knew cyclists had been struck, he jumped out of his car, locked the bikes to street lamps and sign posts and drove to the next location.

In all, they put out 15 bikes in St. Louis and St. Louis County, and said more could appear this week.

The bikes, paint and locations of accidents were provided by bike shops and other cyclists who are fed up with the accidents. All told, fellow cyclists tipped Van Der Tuin off to about 50 locations where riders had been hit. Van Der Tuin selected sites with lots of visibility where cyclists often ride; many of the streets have clearly marked bicycle lanes.

"I could put 100 bikes around this city," said Van Der Tuin, who lives in St. Louis. "There's no shortage of locations."

No one keeps statistics on the number of bicycle accidents in the area each year, but Bob Foster of the St. Louis Bicycle Federation said the number was "surely in the scores."

"It seems like it's becoming more and more common," said Foster, whose group is not affiliated with Van Der Tuin's project. "Anything that can raise awareness of the few seconds extra time it takes to pay more attention to their driving is a good thing."

The mangled bicycles are part "Watch for Cyclists" signs and part (ITAL)descansos,(END ITAL) the roadside crosses often erected near the sites of fatal car accidents, a practice that started in the Southwest. They bikes are meant to make drivers more aware of cyclists and others on the road.

"There are other people who have access to the road and have the right to be there," he said. "Just because I'm using two wheels and don't have four tons of metal doesn't mean you don't need to look out for me."

Often people just don't see cyclists, motorcycles and pedestrians, he said.

"The main thing is inattention," Van Der Tuin added. "People believe because they're in a car, they're in a superior form of transportation. They only look out for other cars."

The issue is a personal one to Van Der Tuin. "I've been hit a couple of times and I've had my fair share of friends hit," he said. Van Der Tuin was briefly hospitalized each time he was hit.

Van Der Tuin said he also wants authorities to take cyclists more seriously and enforce laws that protect cyclists.

For information about the project, e-mail questions or comments to
brokenbikesbrokenlives@hotmail.com.

Reporter Greg Jonsson:
E-mail: gjonsson@post-dispatch.com
Phone: 314-340-8253