Ghost bike memorials

Ghost bike memorial

A photographer travelled more than 6,000 miles to document “ghost bikes” – haunting memorials to cyclists who have been killed in road traffic collisions.

Ghost bikes – whitewashed bicycles left in places where cyclists are killed on the road – have appeared all over the world as reminders of the dangers faced by road users.

Genea Barnes, 41, travelled across the United States to document 65 ghost bike locations in more than 45 cities in 24 states.

She said: “I started photographing the bikes because you can pass a memorial hundreds of times and eventually forget what it represents. I hope this project will help the memorials and their sentiment live on.”

Ms Barnes first saw a ghost bike while walking in New York City during May of 2010.

She said: “The white bike covered in flowers presented such a striking image. I reached out to the New York cycling community and they told me more about what the bikes meant, and how they were becoming a common occurrence across the country.

“I wanted to do something to raise awareness and remind people that each bike represents a life lost.”

Ms Barnes tracked down the location of over 60 bikes across the country and set out on her nationwide road trip to photograph the memorials.

The project took 28 days, during which time Mrs Barnes visited more than 45 cities.

Ms Barnes said: “When photographing ghost bikes I decided not to make it too personal so I chose not to identify the victims in my images. I decided to edit the photos and insert models playing the roles of ghosts and angels instead. This way it reminded people of the human cost the bikes represent without being too intrusive.”

Ms Barnes said she received a letter from the family of one victim condemning her photos.

She said: “They thought the photos were opportunistic but those aren’t my intentions at all. I only want to raise awareness.”

Mr Barnes’ ghost bike photography is currently on display at Brooklyn’s Reconnect Cafe and Iona Bar. She also intends to publish the photos in a book entitled “Ghost Bike: A Photographic Journey” which she hopes to finance through Kickstarter.

The first ghost bike was placed in St. Louis, Missouri in 2003 but the number of memorials has grown to a staggering 210 worldwide in the past ten years with 128 installed in New York City alone however there are more than 600 bicycle-related deaths recorded in the United States each year.

The number of ghost bikes in the UK is currently unknown, but memorials have been appeared in London, Edinburgh, Manchester, Bristol and Kent. One appeared beside the A258 at Ringwould on November 9th 2014.

To find out more about ghost bikes visit: www.ghostbikes.org.

More high resolution pictures are available on request. To discuss rates for using pictures and copy, contact news editor Tom Knight on 07815 004413 or tom@medavia.co.uk.

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