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Articles by Madeleine Thomas

Madeleine Thomas is a Grist fellow. Follow her on Twitter.

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You’ve probably seen a ghost bike. Maybe its skeletal white frame, locked to a street sign on a busy corner, blended into the madness of a hustling urban backdrop. Or perhaps the makeshift memorial emanated its phantomly presence chained to a single lamppost along a lonely country highway. No matter the location, ghost bikes turn an indiscriminate patch of road into a solemn reminder: A cyclist was killed here.

These bikes represent a sobering reality. From 2000 to 2013, rates of commuting via bike have increased more than 100 percent in some parts of the country. Fatalities and injuries have increased, too. In 2013, roughly 48,000 cyclists were injured. More than 740 were killed in crashes with motor vehicles. And that’s just accidents reported to the police. Biking, be it in a metropolis or a whistle stop, can be a continuous flirtation with death if you’re not careful. Cities aren’t off the hook when it comes to making streets co-habitable for both bikes and vehicles. Ghost bikes remind city planners as well as cyclists and drivers that simple mistakes can result in dire consequences.

For those who haven’t seen one: A ghost bike is a memorial for a bicyc... Read more

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