Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

City of Lawrence supports ghost bike memorial to encourage cycling safety

‘Ghost bikes’ to recall fallen cyclists

December 2, 2009


A temporary, two-wheel memorial to a fallen cyclist will be the first of perhaps dozens to spread out across Lawrence this spring.

The initial “ghost bike,” which will be an old bicycle painted white, will be the city’s first temporary memorial designed to raise awareness of cyclist safety. The bike will be displayed for three months at the edge of downtown Lawrence in honor of both Rachel Leek, who died after being struck on her own bike Oct. 16, and others who have been injured or killed while riding.

The movement also is spawning an even wider awareness effort. The city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee has endorsed plans to dispatch a larger array of ghost bikes at various locations throughout Lawrence during May, which is Bicycle Safety Month.

The goal is to draw attention to an important safety issue for both cyclists and drivers of motor vehicles alike, City Manager David Corliss said. While the city already posts “Share the Road” signs in town and distributes safety information on maps and other written communications, the ghost bikes will be expected to reach and affect people using an alternate approach.

“Sometimes it’s appropriate to not just have a sign, but to do something different,” Corliss said. “We just want to talk about what we can do, public-relations and educationwise, to encourage drivers to be more cognizant of bicyclists — and bicyclists to be more cognizant of their surroundings.”

Corliss and Lawrence city commissioners learned of the “ghost bike” movement from Dylan Medlock, a friend of Leek’s who suggested that the city accommodate his plans to honor the fallen KU student by painting a bike white, adding an awareness plaque and placing the memorial at the corner of Ninth and Tennessee streets, which would be less than two blocks north of where Leek died after a hit-and-run accident.

City officials soon agreed to allow a memorial to go up for three months along the east side of Tennessee, about 100 feet north of Eighth Street. Medlock is still working on the bike, and the city’s coordinator on the project has given him suggested wording for the plaque:

In memory of Lawrence’s community members who have been injured or lost their lives while cycling. Share the Road — Be cautious, compassionate and respectful.

The memorial will join dozens of other ghost bikes that already have appeared in more than 100 communities in the U.S. and abroad. Elsewhere, such stark displays have been chained to street signs and designed to recall both the memory of fallen riders while spurring others to recognize the rights of all cyclists to safe travel.

As Lawrence’s first bike is installed — expected sometime this month — officials will continue to work on securing bikes, gathering supplies and identifying sites for the larger “ghost bike” deployment in May, said Megan Gilliland, the city’s communications coordinator.

“It’s a unique visual to create awareness,” said Gilliland, who is coordinating the municipal effort. “It’s something the community does not have now, and it will create interest.”


Jean1183 8 years, 4 months ago

Please tell bicyclists that they need to obey the traffic laws. They are suppose to stop at stop signs and not pass motorists on the right who are stopped at stop signs if there is not a bike lane.

leedavid 8 years, 4 months ago

I'm all in favor of cyclist saftey and awareness. Heart goes out to those injured or killed and their families. I wished cyclist had automobile awareness. They have a right to be on the roads, they also have the right to obey laws and be safe. Some cyclist seem to think they are exempt from the rules of the road and that everyone should watch out for them. They should at least have reflective gear and lights on their bike at night. Just a thought, might just be me.

ToriFreak13 8 years, 4 months ago

If bicyclists are going to be such a prominent factor in this town, then the riders should have to have their bikes licensed. To get that license they need to pass a 10 question safety test. At least 90% of cyclists I see every day on the streets of Lawrence fail to use hand signals. This can never be safe considering how dangerous it is to even drive a car in this town. Most also fail to have proper lighting on their bicycles when riding at night. If we are going to enforce "share the road" , then it truly should be sharing....not just move over car because I'm a cyclist. If a vehicle did not have the proper lighting....failed to use signals....drove on sidewalks when convenient then jumped out in front of traffic at crosswalks...the privilege along with the consequences should be shared. I am all for people riding their bikes...but they have a responsibility to help keep the roads safe if they plan to use them. Besides these are written laws being broken.

maxcrabb 8 years, 4 months ago

Because I don't want to offend any of you, i'll just stick to usual internet decor.


"The goal is to draw attention to an important safety issue for both cyclists and drivers of motor vehicles alike"

gsxr600 8 years, 4 months ago

I think a lot more needs to be done for cyclists (the ones that blatantly break the law) to pay any attention.

Adam P Atterson 8 years, 4 months ago

I almost get run over on my bike daily by jerks just like the ones in this thread who feel that they own the road in their SUVs/redneck trucks. Just last week I had some ahole practically drive over me because he didn't want to stop at the yellow light. I'm so sick of the behavior of drivers in this town, especially downtown. The next guy that even comes close to recklessly hitting me is getting a rock through the windshield. And before anyone asks, yes I have lights and yes I use hand signals. The city doesn't need more laws punishing cyclists (downtown sidewalk law) and instead needs more laws protecting/rewarding them. I know most of you feel you are above us cyclists, but I can only take so much pushing before I push back. Also, on topic, the Ghost Bike memorial is a great idea.

Adam P Atterson 8 years, 4 months ago

I was turning left, moron. The light turned while I was in the intersection. The guy sped around me, from behind, while I was turning. And why are you driving your truck 70mph anywhere in town? Thanks for giving me a model to look for, though. Come find me tonight. I'll be riding home sometime around 9. Honk your horn so I know its you.

Adam P Atterson 8 years, 4 months ago

I suppose it only punishes them when the police decide to enforce the law on a rainy/snowy day where no one is out walking around and you are afraid some driver who isn't paying attention is going to back out into you or worse.

The fine is ridiculous too, a good way for the Lawrence revenue collectors (aka LPD) to make some cash for the city all in the name of 'safety.'

But whatever, I ride in the street now. Deal with it jerks. You can all keep this problem from coming to a nasty head by driving responsibly and carefully.

Kirk Larson 8 years, 4 months ago

I ride my bike near every day. I drive when I have to. I must say that, whether riding or driving, it is people in cars and trucks who are far more often the problem. Riding has made me a much safer driver because it made me more aware of the vacuousness of many motorists.

frisbeenation 8 years, 4 months ago

"And if you want to push back, try pushing your bike into my (red kneck) F350 at 70 MPH and see walks away. Too funny "

Incredible that you would post a joke about killing someone with your car. Stay classy, you might actually do it one day.

gsxr600 8 years, 4 months ago

Are bicycle laws enforced at all around here? I see so many break the law everyday, I doubt it.

I really do not have a problem with cyclists that follow the law, although I think if you're riding down a main street like Iowa or Clinton Parkway, you're asking for it. However many rights you have, that won't do you much good when you're flying through the air into a brick wall.

ModSquadGal 8 years, 4 months ago

First of all, I would like to give my sincere empathy to those who have lost friends or family members in a biking accident. It's as tragic as any loss.

That being said - I am SO TIRED of bicyclists acting like they own the road! I don't care if you have on the latest cycling wonder-design outfit, you do NOT belong on the street! I can't tell you how many times I've been driving along, only to be confronted with a cyclist riding ON THE STREET while there is a huge, accessible, smooth sidewalk right beside them. It irritates me that as a driver, I have to not only be watching out for the everyday commuting issues, but in addition, people on bikes that have NO INTENTION of getting off the road and onto the sidewalks!

I cannot tell you the number of times I've had to slam on my brakes, or swerve into another lane to miss a bicycle. Especially at this time of year when twilight comes so early. There are SO many cyclists out there riding without lights, or reflectors, etc., and they just EXPECT people to see them. It's THEIR responsibility to be seen and to be careful.

"Share the road" is not an acceptable slogan. Bikes are NOT in any way comparable to the flow of traffic, the risk of being in the traffic, or the harried, assertive-based style of driving that exists in all cities. It's naive and ridiculous. If you are on a bike, you are endangering yourself. You weigh less and are harder to see than a motorcycle or another car.

It's irresponsible, in my opinion, for bicyclists to ride in the street. Why not try doing everything in YOUR power to be responsible and safe? It's up to YOU.

ModSquadGal 8 years, 4 months ago

One more thing...

My car has, by law, headlights, taillights, turn signals, air bags, crush zones, bumpers, daytime running lights, seat belts, and rules of the road. I must also be LICENSED.

Consider the number of motorcycle accidents each year. They are also LICENSED and have vehicles that are required to be equipped with headlights, taillights, etc. and have to keep up with the flow of traffic. We even have helmet laws for them. Bicycles, on the other hand, expect to be slower, less obvious, and less protected and STILL infringe on the road.

You tell me who needs to stay off the road now.

samowen 8 years, 4 months ago

wow mod squad girl, just, wow.

you are a shining example of the motorist-side 1/2 of the ignorance equation endangering everyone commuting through our town today. just, wow.

and you cyclists out there without headlights or taillights, or who don't signal and obey traffic laws, are the other 1/2.

i am so glad i am moving out of lawrence and back to somewhere where i can feel safe commuting by bicycle again.

Adam P Atterson 8 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

John Reeves 8 years, 4 months ago

'Road Rage' Case Highlights Cyclist Vs. Driver Tension A driver in Los Angeles was recently convicted of using his car as a weapon against two cyclists. And the case is focusing attention on the often uneasy relationship between motorists and bicyclists who have to share the road.

jonas_opines 8 years, 4 months ago

Con1, there's a fine line between being an effective troll and just being an idiot. You're just being an idiot.

loloen 8 years, 4 months ago


Apparently YOU never use the sidewalk for walking. A bike is a vehicle. It belongs on a road, NOT on a sidewalk. I am an avid walker (and recently runner) but my top speed is around 6 MPH. Bikes can do twice that (and do) on the sidewalks. Sidewalks that moms push strollers on, kids walk on, and the elderly use. Most sidewalks in Lawrence are in poor repair or are too narrow to even think about riding a bike on while sharing it with walkers and joggers. So, to paraphrase what you're saying: YOU, who are in a 2 ton vehicle, DON'T want to be inconvenienced. So much so, that you're willing to put the safety of pedestrians on the line who have NO protection. Walkers are not mandated to wear helmets. We're WALKERS! It's bad enough the bikes use the sidewalk on the N. Law bridge (almost been hit several times by bikes too lazy to call out "On your left!") but I can understand that one, I wouldn't want to ride on the bridge either, especially with all the construction. But, the point is bikes DO NOT belong on the sidewalk!

You bikers, if you have to use the sidewalk sometimes, I understand, just look out for pedestrians. We are the most vulnerable. Most of all, you guys DO belong on the road! Keep riding safely! I don't mind slowing down or moving over for you. I wish everyone else would do this for you too.

laika 8 years, 4 months ago

Good to see that this board has reached a new level of classy involving premeditated vehicular homicide or at least threats thereof.

But really, I'm seriously concerned. I ride my bicycle regularly and I want to keep an eye out for this maniac. If I only knew what a "red kneck" truck looked like! Is it like a redneck truck but even more offensive and outright hostile?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 4 months ago

"My car has, by law, headlights, taillights, turn signals, air bags, crush zones, bumpers, daytime running lights, seat belts, and rules of the road. I must also be licensed."

And sadly, your posts indicate quite clearly that having a license doesn't mean you deserve to be behind the wheel of a multi-ton motor vehicle, apparently nearly mowing down a cyclist every time you go out.

storm 8 years, 4 months ago

Great idea B.A.C.!

Now if we can get some motorists to understand that Share the Road does not mean Share the Lane!

ModSquadGal 8 years, 4 months ago

Samowen: What I said is TRUE. I am not ignorant, I am a motorist. Bicycles do NOT belong on the road.

Ioloen: I do use the sidewalk for walking, but calling a bike a "vehicle" is pushing it a little bit. They certainly are not the kind of "vehicle" that should be in busy city traffic with MOTORIZED vehicles that weigh far more, move far more quickly and are already overburdened with rules, dangers, etc. No, I do NOT want to be inconvenienced, and if the choice is between a CAR hitting a bike and a bike hitting a pedestrian, I think the less deadly choice is clear.

Just another bozo: I most certainly deserve to be behind the wheel of a car. I am licensed, I have all the safety devices available to me, I drive carefully and take time to be as safe as I can. Bicyclists take absolutely NO responsibility for being a pedestrian on flimsy metal; they ignore the rules of the road, don't wear proper protection, and get angry if they are not seen for their own lack of safe practices. It's just simple. Bikes do not belong on the road. Either the city needs more bike lanes, or bikes need to stay off the streets.

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