'Ghost bikes' fail to win council support

KEITH LYNCH
Last updated 05:00 05/02/2011
Ghost bike

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A plan to commemorate cyclists killed on the roads with "ghost bikes" has failed to win Christchurch City Council support amid fears "ghost pedestrians" or "ghost motorcycles" could be next.

Council transport and greenspace unit manager Alan Beuzenberg said white crosses would be a better way of getting the message across.

"The ghost-bike symbol seeks to make a distinction in the message to motorists specific to cycle fatalities," he said. "In our view, this complicates and dilutes the effectiveness of the message and would set a precedent for further distinctions, which include pedestrians and possibly motorcyclists.

"While we have considerable empathy for those that are wanting to erect these symbols, we believe that the white cross is a more meaningful and effective method of communicating the road-safety message to road users."

Beuzenberg said ghost bikes would have to be considered case-by-case.

"The Christchurch City Council has guidelines in place for these assessments, which are aligned to the New Zealand Transport Agency guidelines," he said. "Ghost-bike symbols are not currently covered in council or agency guidelines and would therefore require specific consideration on a case-by-case basis."

University of Otago Christchurch cancer researcher Lucia Alonso-Gonzalez wants to introduce ghost bikes to Christchurch.

The concept involves erecting white bikes and placing a plaque where a cyclist has died.

Recent stories in The Press have seen her gather support throughout the city.

"I have four bikes that people have donated. I'm going to pick them up next week," she said.

Despite the council's stance, Alonso-Gonzalez wants to push ahead.

Burnside High School teacher Rochelle Roozen, 41, died after she was hit by a car at the intersection of Marshs and Springs roads, near Prebbleton, last May.

Husband Andrew Roozen met Alonso-Gonzalez this week. He said he was looking forward to having a ghost bike installed.

"I wouldn't want to do anything if it upsets the authority. Part of the reasons I'm keen is because it's creating awareness," he said.

"Maybe this might be the chance to ensure better facilities for cyclists."

Spokes Canterbury chairman Keith Turner said the organisation did not want to take a stand on ghost bikes.

"We have a slight concern that in putting them up it is another thing that highlights maybe cycling is dangerous, when statistically we know the average rider has to cycle for 52 years [before a fatality]," he said.

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"We're basically taking a neutral stand. Some members think it's a very good idea, and they're free to do that.

"As an organisation, we can see both sides of the argument. When there's a car crash you see crosses, but you don't generally see ghost cars."

- The Press

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