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New policy calls for removal of ghost bike memorials

Posted July 28, 2015

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— Ghost bikes—marking places where cyclists have been killed—are disappearing following a new policy regulating roadside memorials.

A brightly decorated ghost bike in memory of Seth Vidal leans against a pole on Hillandale Road in Durham but by early September it will be removed.

Vidal's bike must be removed under a new Durham policy regulating memorials on city property. Two other bikes have already been taken down.

Carrie Anne Orlikowski, Vidal’s friend, said his family is upset about the new policy.

“[It’s] very much a part of their remembrance of Seth,” Orlikowski said.

Orlikowski wrote an open letter to city council sharing frustrations with the policy. One of her frustrations addressed in the letter was that only one compliant is required to have a memorial removed.

If no complaints are received, the memorial can remain in place indefinitely.

“There are a lot of people whose free speech rights are being ignored here by this policy that allows one person to complain,” Orlikowski said.

Kahlil Nassir said the ghost bikes eventually become eyesores and should be removed after families have time to mourn.

"We should give people time to mourn; after that get rid of the bike,” Nasir said. “If people keep getting hit you're going to see these bikes on every corner.”

Orlikowski said the ghost bikes should be maintained and allowed to stay up indefinitely.

Durham's city manager, Tom Bonefield said allowing the bikes to remain in place for an extended period of time is not practical.

“Forever is a long time,” Bonefield said.

3 Comments

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  • Doug Hanthorn Jul 29, 2015
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    Free speech rights? REALLY? You think you have a free speech right to place your personal memorial on public property? REALLY?

  • Paul Jones Jul 29, 2015
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    Those bikes are truly an eyesore. For that matter, most roadside memorials are. None should be allowed.

  • Jamie France Jul 29, 2015
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    "We should give people time to mourn; after that get rid of the bike,” Nasir said. “If people keep getting hit you're going to see these bikes on every corner.”

    hmmm... Maybe the problem which needs to be solved is that cyclists keep getting hit, not that the memorials get left out.