Sunday 22 November 2009


At the last tally, I know of three cyclists killed in Bristol this year. And ghost bikes have appeared in the city. If you haven't heard of them, ghost bikes are painted white overall and installed at the scene of a cycling death, as a memorial and a reminder that cyclists are vulnerable.

So I was a bit alarmed to spot this bike on Cotham Hill last night, as I hadn't heard of any new fatalities. But it turns out that it was put there by some students, to advertise their "Social Enterprise Project".

False alarm, then. Apparently, the bike is not white but sky blue, and symbolises 'aspiration and ethicality'. Still looks like a ghost bike to me. And, knowing the facts behind the appearance of the bike and nine others (thanks, Niall!), the thinking behind their installation seems at least muddled, and plain wrong. Fail!


  1. I can see that the students idea would make all light coloured bikes banal. Do the white bikes get decorated with flowers?

    For a while in town we had big triangles placed near to the scene of where pedestrians had been injured or killed. it was amazing to see how many were close to crossings. The classic accident here is the nearside car stopping and the unfortunate pedestrian walks out into the path of a car coming in the second lane.

  2. They do get decorated, Anji. I've added a hyperlink to a photo on "memorial" in para. 1.

    Yes, there was a death on the zebra crossing just round the corner a few weeks ago; the car went straight into an elderly couple who were crossing...

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  4. Here, roadside memorials were becoming such a problem between the size of some of them getting in the way of mowing crews, or their location getting others hurt as they tried to add to them that some of the states have outlawed them and others are offering a city or state road sign for the location in return for there not being flowers, teddy bears, candles and balloons.

    It's sad that the students have decided to distract from something that might have saved another bicyclist!


  5. I think it was in the Auvergne or a region nearby where the roads department put up black silhouettes to represent each death on the roads. scary how many were in places where you would think you would have to try hard to do something wrong!

    Surveys show that humans are involved in 100% of these incidents!

    Caroline xx

  6. Not quite in the same vain but...I was in Canada when the city I was working in marked the anniversary of Hiroshima by painting white silhouettes everywhere all over the city. In the morning I thought it was a wierd idea, by lunch time I 'got the message' and thought it was a reaaly clever idea. Everywhere I went that day I saw these ghostly oulines at bus stops, shopping mall car parks, cinema steps etc. by the end of the day I was really quite moved.

    I like the ghost bike rememberance it reminds me that when I'm driving my car not to take it for granted. To the pedestrian or cyclist I am driving down the road in a ton and a half of steel with some 25 litres of petrol surrounding me. Life is too precious to forget that sometimes...even though I too often do. Even though I dont drive fast these ghost bikes are a sobering reminder that one mistake in a car could haunt you for the rest of your life.

  7. Sky blue? Well it looks white under the sodium light, definitely. And that's the hub of the matter, I think. Perhaps the council should install a greater variety of street lamps filled with different gasses in order to make everything look a different colour according to where in the city it is. That would concentrate a few minds.