About a week ago, whilst walking down Kingsland road I came across a ‘ghost bike’ tied to the railing on a corner that didn’t look all that cycle-friendly. As it happens, this bike, with its dedication to “In memory of Smudge 1971 – 2008”, is actually a Ghost Bike, part of the underground cyclist awareness and remembrance movement.
Originating in Missouri, Ghost Bikes has been around since 2003, and began as an almost anarchical memorial put up “under cover of darkness” by Patrick Van der Tuin after he witnessed an accident.
As Geraldine Bedell writes for The Guardian in The spectral memorials that haunt our roads, the project’s evolution has had it serving as warnings on accident blackspots, as memorials in or near to the places where cyclists have been killed, and as reminders for the anonymous fallen. It surprised me to find out that the bike that I first saw, for Smudge, was for an accident that happened in 2008, and was still there. It says a lot for London’s tolerance of what I would consider guerilla art, and both the sympathy towards cyclists and the need to remind drivers to look out for us.