On the Eve of Citibike, Remembering the City's Ghost Bikers

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Sydney Brownstone
Ghost bike memorial riders in Queens Plaza.
It's a bright, cool Sunday afternoon, and jammed car lines are radiating from Queens Plaza. The N, Q, and 7 trains rattle above intersections. But on the corner of Jackson Avenue and Queens Boulevard, several dozen cyclists have stopped to place flowers in the spokes of a bicycle that's been spray-painted white. The cyclists ignore the terse horn honks; the sign they install on top of the bike is a dedication to cyclists whose deaths didn't make the news.

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Philipp Rassmann, NYC Street Memorial Project
David "Troy" Ellis, Webster Avenue & Gun Hill Road, the Bronx

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Philipp Rassmann, NYC Street Memorial Project
David Oliveras, Williamsbridge Road and Mace Avenue, the Bronx

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Philipp Rassmann, NYC Street Memorial Project
Joseph Nelson, Jerome Avenue and Fordham Road, the Bronx

On May 8, the city will launch its first bike share program. But Sunday's ghost bike memorial gathering was a snapshot of a city still struggling to embrace its riders and keep them safe. With her back to the frustrated congestion, Street Memorial Project spokeswoman Leah Todd read the names of cyclists killed in 2012 and 2013: Emma Blumstein, Shaquille "Swizzy" Cochrane, Terence Connor, Tchaka Cooke, David "Troy" Ellis, Henry Garcia, Mireya Gomez, Roger Hernandez, Victor Lopez, Jean Malizia, Alexander Martinez, Daniel "Danny" Martinez, Joseph Nelson, David Oliveras, Ramon Russel, Ronald "R.J." Tillman, and four unnamed cyclists.

The Street Memorial Project has been blessing and installing ghost bikes in remembrance of cyclists killed in traffic for eight years. And this year, Todd said, the number of cyclist deaths hasn't significantly changed. Though down from last year's 22 fatalities, the New York City Department of Transportation still reported 18 cyclists killed in 2012. Meanwhile, overall traffic fatalities increased by nearly 12 percent, and hit-and-runs were up by 31 percent.

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Philipp Rassmann, NYC Street Memorial Project
Shaquille "Swizzy" Cochrane, Park Avenue and East 108th Street

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Copyright © 2013 Andrew Hinderaker
Henry Garcia, 20th Avenue and 80th Street in Brooklyn

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Copyright © 2013 Andrew Hinderaker
Victor Lopez, Utrecht Avenue and 58th Street in Brooklyn


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