Every day, people drive around their city with almost no recognition of the bikes they see. No, this is not about the cycle teams with their matching kits. This is not about the groups of weekend riders that are trying to be healthy. This is not about the cyclists that are training for a race. This is about the white bikes. Ghost bikes. ?Bikes that show exactly where a cyclist was killed by a driver. Bikes that show where someone lost their life and the driver, in almost every instance, walked away without even a ticket or citation.
Currently, there are almost 1,000 ghost bikes already in place. In Houston, Richard Tomlinson, spent this past weekend installing 13 bikes to memorialize the loss of a life. When he’s finished, he will have done 61 bikes. He dreams of never having to do another.
Time and time again, cyclists are killed, maimed and paralyzed by drivers with no repercussions. Consider the recent story of Sharlene Simon, who killed 17 year old Brandon Majewski. Not only was she NOT charged, she is now suing the dead teen’s family for 1.35 million for, get this, ?emotional trauma? and loss of enjoyment of life.
In Houston, the story of Margaret Renee Mayer galvanized the cycling community after she struck 24 year old Chelsea Norman , and left her in critical condition in the bike lane. She died later at the hospital. The charge? Failure to stop and render aid. The driver called a friend and told her that she was intoxicated and hit a bike. Authorities admit that by striking Chelsea, she did not break the law.
The body of 40 year old Nabor Rosa-Inclan, was discovered in the bayou after being run down. There were no witnesses. Last May, the Houston city council unanimously passed landmark safety measure that requires drivers give a three foot distance to all ?vulnerable road users?. Commercial drivers are required to maintain a six foot distance. As of December, Houston police had yet to issue a single ticket.
The stories of Miguel Marcial, Benjamin Tzul, Paul Miller, Anthony Jones, Cruz Riojas, Jonathan Lennard and Leslie Roman, a 6 year old child are strikingly similar in that there were very little, if any, legal ramifications for the drivers. In many of the cases, despite witnesses, the cyclists were ?at fault?.
Drivers in every city need to be courteous, aware and civil to cyclists. But, throughout your busy day, when you’re driving around your city, become aware of the ghost bikes. Now that you know what they signify, give a moment of thanks and gratitude that you are blissfully unaffected by them. Be grateful that your life and the lives of your loved ones have never been affected by such a senseless death. More importantly, be aware of the cyclists that surround you every day. Give them the space they deserve. They ask very little, only three feet. Three feet and we can all get home to our families.
Take a liberal, gun owning Texas feminist. Throw in a rabid supporter of all things LGBT and a polytheistic Ordained Minister chomping at the bit to perform same sex weddings once Texas elects a blue governor. Add 3 decades of time in the fitness and medical communities as an instructor, Cancer Exercise Specialist and public speaker. Sprinkle in a self-taught chef with a passion for Italian and French red wines and cycling through Europe. Mix well and?.voil???Robert.