Ghost Bikes: How roadside memorials transform public space

In Queen’s Boulevard in New York City, there are a great deal of cyclist deaths yearly. For this reason, the boulevard is also known as the “Boulevard of Death”. Placed in the locations where cyclists have died are “ghost bikes”, which serve as public memorials for those lost.

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As you can see in the above picture, ghost bikes are often adorned with flowers by family members of the deceased. The presence of such memorials in a public place like a city street is somewhat of a transformation of public space. They catch the eye of strangers walking and driving past. As Jack Santino has discussed, public shrines are, at least implicitly, often making some sort of statement. In the case of ghost bikes, the safety of cyclists is being advocated for. Public memorials are a reminder of the dangers associated with automobiles. “These shrines and roadside installations root tragedy in places we might normally ignore, appealing to our shared humanity to acknowledge tragedy and ideally change the conditions that allowed such accidents to occur” (Mullins).

These memorials are well maintained by the community, which shows that they have great symbolic importance. It is important to consider space when discussing death and grieving, because the location of a memorial can greatly alter the way we think of death and other tragedies.

These shrines and roadside installations root tragedy in places we might normally ignore, appealing to our shared humanity to acknowledge tragedy and ideally change the conditions that allowed such accidents to occur. – See more at: http://popanth.com/article/the-boulevard-of-death-ghost-bikes-and-spontaneous-shrines-in-new-york-city/#sthash.5hh6mI3b.dpuf
These shrines and roadside installations root tragedy in places we might normally ignore, appealing to our shared humanity to acknowledge tragedy and ideally change the conditions that allowed such accidents to occur. – See more at: http://popanth.com/article/the-boulevard-of-death-ghost-bikes-and-spontaneous-shrines-in-new-york-city/#sthash.5hh6mI3b.dpuf
These shrines and roadside installations root tragedy in places we might normally ignore, appealing to our shared humanity to acknowledge tragedy and ideally change the conditions that allowed such accidents to occur. – See more at: http://popanth.com/article/the-boulevard-of-death-ghost-bikes-and-spontaneous-shrines-in-new-york-city/#sthash.5hh6mI3b.dpuf
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