Allowing makeshift memorials dubbed “ghost bikes” to remain at the sites of fatal bicycle crashes in San Francisco received unanimous support Tuesday from the Board of Supervisors.
Supervisor Norman Yee’s resolution calling for a moratorium on the removal of ghost bikes by city departments – Department of Public Works is the lead on street and sidewalk clean up – was unanimously approved by the board.
The resolution also calls for the creation of a permitting system to ensure the ghost bikes and other memorials can remain up while also adhering to certain parameters to be developed through a working group.
“It is our responsibility to take every opportunity available to not only speak about but to take steps to meet our Vision Zero goals of zero traffic fatalities by 2024,” Yee said Tuesday during the meeting.
Yee’s resolution reflects a similar effort adopted earlier this year by the Bicycle Advisory Committee, urging the board to adopt such a position. The effort was supported by those who have lost loved ones to traffic fatalities.
Since 2005, 40 cyclists have died as a result of traffic collisions, including four last year and two this year.
Supervisor Eric Mar said the ghost bikes are “not just about Vision Zero, but it’s really about communities healing.”
The resolution calls for a permitting system recommendation by Oct. 23, 2017, developed by the Bicycle Advisory Committee working in partnership with Public Works and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
From that work would come “an ordinance for the permitted placement of ‘Ghost Bikes’ or other memorials by citizens who wishes to do so.” One issue that will likely be a matter of some debate is how long the memorials would be allowed to remain in place.
Mar said he hoped that through this work the newly formed group San Francisco Bay Area (SFBA) Families for Safe Streets, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and the Bicycle Advisory Committee, among others, “link to up to various struggles that are going on for a vision moving from a culture of speeding and recklessness to a culture of safety where we all can appreciate art and memorials but also make the streets safer.”
Supervisor Jane Kim said the ghost bike memorials are “an important reminder for everyone to slow down. Saving those five minutes to get to that meeting or to meet your friends isn’t worth the life of one of our neighbors and residents. It will remind our drivers and all of our users on the road to think more carefully about how we can better share our city’s infrastructure.”
As previously reported by the San Francisco Examiner, a family that set up a ghost bike memorial was none too happy when they say The City removed it within weeks.
Julie Mitchell lost her 21-year-old son Dylan Mitchell when he was struck and killed by a Recology refuse truck on his bicycle ride into work one morning in 2013.
“It felt like another insult to injury when The City removed our precious son’s memorial that we put so much emotion into making to honor him,” Julie Mitchell recently wrote in a letter to the San Francisco Bicycle Advisory Committee.