Yesterday a small but dedicated group of cyclists braved the brutal winter winds for the fifth annual Memorial Ride across Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn to dedicate eleven “Ghost Bikes.” The all-white bikes, a tragically common reminder of bicyclist fatalities, commemorate the estimated ten lives lost while bicycling in NYC during 2009. Linda Langergaard, whose son James Langergaard was killed biking across Queens Boulevard in August, said in a statement, “James was a wonderful part of so many lives and we miss him terribly. It hurts to know so many families are feeling the same loss as we are. It is so important that we come together to prevent these tragedies from ever happening to another family.”
By the end of the ride at 5 p.m., the cyclists were joined by pedestrians to memorialize Violetta Kryzak, who was killed in April by a driver in a stolen vehicle being chased by the NYPD in Greenpoint. The group, by then 75 strong, walked to the Greenpoint Reformed Church to dedicate an eleventh Ghost Bike intended to honor unknown cyclists and walkers killed by motor vehicles.
Transportation Alternatives has tracked 65 pedestrian and 10 cycling fatalities in media reports over the past year, though these numbers do not include the many unreported incidents that will later become part of the official total. In 2008, 147 pedestrians and 25 cyclists were killed in NYC. “Five years ago, many of us hoped this ride would no longer be necessary in 2010. But we’re still here, and we still have to do this to remind our neighbors and our City that these preventable deaths keep happening all around us,” says Leah Todd, a volunteer with the New York City Street Memorial Project.