A group of Florida bikers from Lee County is leaving memorials near the locations of fatal bicycle accidents as a reminder that the roads in Florida can be dangerous for bicyclists. The bike accident memorials are in the form of “ghost bikes.” Ghost bikes are bikes that have their chains and gears removed and are painted white. Each ghost bike marks the site of a fatal bike accident and each memorial has an accompanying sign that reads, “Cyclist Killed,” and the date of the bicyclist’s death.
Florida is notorious for the number of bicycle accidents that occur throughout the state every year. Bicycle riders in southwest Florida are trying to raise awareness and visibility about bicycles and the vulnerability that bicyclists experience. The ghost bike memorials that have recently been setup in Lee County pay tribute to three bicyclists that were killed since the beginning of the year. The first bicyclist that was killed was in a fatal accident in February. The second bicyclist died on April 17, and the third bicyclist died at the beginning of last month on May 7.
Few people know who are behind the ghost bike memorials, and the memorials are setup under the cover of night. The folks who know the creators of the ghost bikes are not letting on. Ghost bikes first appeared in St. Louis, Missouri in 2003 according to the website ghostbikes.org, but the memorials are fairly new to Lee County, Florida. The first memorial is the one that honors the May 7 bicyclist.
Members of the local bicycle community say it does not matter who is putting up the memorials. They say the memorials represent lives lost and hope it will make drivers more aware. One Ft. Myers resident whose wife’s death is honored by a ghost bike says he tries to avoid the intersection where the memorial is located because of the pain, but also says, “Anytime you can make people aware of their surroundings, it’s a good thing.”