Thursday, September 17, 2015

Ghost Bikes: Cyclists as victims

Ghost bike for Ethan Wong

Way back in 2006 I began to see a pro-bike ideology emerging from my encounters with the city's bike people:

Calling this mish-mash of historical ignorance, self-righteousness, self-congratulation, and anger an ideology is of course overstating the case. Still, add all the nonsense up and you have a more or less coherent point of view.

Add self-pity to that list. Whenever anyone is killed while riding a bike---regardless of who was at fault---"ghost bikes" are often installed near the location of the accident, along with flowers, stuffed animals, and candles.

To get the full flavor of this addition to victimology, you have to read Streetsblog, where you learn that there's a war happening on the streets of the country, and cyclists and pedestrians are taking a lot of casualties in attacks by motor vehicles, aka "death monsters."

A former Streetsblog editor, Bryan Goebel, is now bike correspondent for KQED News, where we find the latest ghost bike and its backstory.

The ghost bike practice can slide easily into outright propaganda and demagoguery, like it did after Nils Linke was killed in 2010 by a drunk driver on Masonic Avenue.

Local anti-car bike demagogue Michael Helquist used Linke's death as part of his campaign to screw up traffic on Masonic Avenue:

Since the bicyclist's death Friday night---one that many observers are attributing to the lack of a separated bike lane---city officials have taken another look at traffic calming on Masonic to determine what might be implemented now to complement the longer-term planning project underway.

In reality Linke was hit in the Masonic/Turk intersection (German cyclist’s death found to be a homicide) where even a separated bike lane couldn't have protected him (and he wasn't wearing a helmet).

Ghost bike memorial for Nils Linke

An earlier ghost bike story for KQED by Goebel.

Labels: , , ,


At 3:33 PM, Blogger Michael Baehr said...

Linke was hit from behind. If he'd had a separated bike lane to ride in, he probably wouldn't have been hit... unless Calder would have, at the moment of speeding into the intersection, suddenly swerved to the right into Linke's path.

Also the helmet comment was a low blow and completely unnecessary. Wearing a helmet does not protect you from getting hit by a car, nor does it make you deserve your injuries, nor does it identify you as an irresponsible individual. To mention it in reference to a collision caused by a drunk, speeding driver (who fled the scene) is a non sequitur at best, and cruel at worst.

At 7:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the bike community should be advocated just as much to require helmets as they are for seperated lanes. A helmet wouldve saved many of the dead cyclists.

At 9:10 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

You seem to assume that I made up the facts I cite, but they were in the Examiner story on the accident that I linked for you. Whether Linke was hit from behind or otherwise is irrelevant if he was hit in the intersection, since even a separated bike lane doesn't cross an intersection.

No one is claiming that a helmet would have saved him, but it might have helped him survive the accident.

Nor is anyone saying that he deserved to die or that he was irresponsible, though wearing a helmet while riding a bike seems like a good idea in general. According to the story, Linke died of "blunt force injuries to his head," and most cycling fatalities are caused by head injuries.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home