In memory of a local woman who died in a cycling crash, Kelowna has its first ghost bike.
Painted white and locked to a power pole near to where Patricia Keenan fatally rode into a car door that suddenly opened, the bike is intended to act as a reminder to all of what could have been prevented with more awareness and attention.
“This is our first installation of a ghost bike memorial, and we’re hoping enough awareness can be raised that it will be the last,” said past president of the Kelowna Area Cycling Coalition Landon Bradshaw, adding that the spoke with Keenan’s family about the tribute and they were in full support.
Being “doored” isn’t uncommon in Kelowna, Bradshaw said. He and countless friends have had the potentially life-ending experience, although very few report it.
Quoting stats from ICBC, Bradshaw said from 2010 to 2013, Kelowna had 10 incidents on file. In Vancouver, for 2014 alone, there have been 150 reported incidents.
“It happens every day,” he said.
Cyclists face an active threat to both their left and right, he said, and it’s only natural that they steer closer to the parked lane of cars to feel safe.
What may improve conditions for cyclists are more designated cycling lanes, which Kelowna Area Cycling Coalition president Skye Chataway said they may to continue to actively lobby the city for their implementation.
While Kelowna has just one Ghost Bike, other cities across the globe have been erecting the memorials for cyclists for years.
According to Ghostbike.org, the small and somber memorials “serve as reminders of the tragedy that took place on an otherwise anonymous street corner, and as quiet statements in support of cyclists’ right to safe travel.”
The first ghost bikes were created in St. Louis, Missouri in 2003. Currently there are over 630 ghost bikes that have since appeared in over 210 locations throughout the world.
“For those who create and install the memorials, the death of a fellow bicyclist hits home,” the site reads. “We all travel the same unsafe streets and face the same risks; it could just as easily be any one of us. Each time we say we hope to never have to do it again — but we remain committed to making these memorials as long as they are needed.”
Keenan died from her injuries in July. A Critical Mass Ride has already been held in her honour, and the coalition is considering making it an annual event.