University of Otago Christchurch researcher Lucia Alonso-Gonzalez hopes to bring ghost bikes to Christchurch. The all white bicycles would be locked to street signs and lamp posts where fatal cycle accidents have occurred, as a memorial to the dead similar to the white crosses that appear along highways and at intersections. “I believe it’s a beautiful memorial for the family [of a cyclist] and I believe it could be a shocking image for a motorist, especially at night.” Cycling fatalities gained increased media coverage last year when five cyclists were killed in as many days. Thankfully though that is not the norm, and New Zealand’s road toll for cyclists has been about ten per year since 2005. 2011 is already off to a bad start, with three cyclists in fatal accidents last month.
Kathy Condon, who lost her husband Graham, a Christchurch city councillor in a cycle accident in 2007, told The Press that she favoured the concept. “Anything that helps get people focused on the bikes on the road is great,” she said. “We’d be quite keen to have one put there [at the accident site] because there are a lot of cyclists that bike down Lower Styx Rd.” There are currently two ghost bike memorials in New Zealand, both in Whangarei. They were installed for road safety advocate Fred Ogle and travel agent and athlete Lynley MacDonald. Both were placed there by Ryan Branson, who discovered the concept while browsing an American mountain-biking forum. He told the Northern Advocate “I remember thinking `I hope I never have to do that’, but if someone did come off, I would do it.”. Ghost bike memorials began in the United States in 2003, and are now found in more than twenty countries.