Volume 18 • Issue 35 | January 13 - 19, 2006

Ride to honor the 21 cyclists killed in 2005

Downtown Express photos by Jefferson Siegel
Cycling advocates turn onto Governeur Lane and pedal towards Water St. in a ride to memorialize cyclists killed in the city last year.

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By Jefferson Siegel

About 150 cyclists honored the 21 bikers killed in city traffic accidents in 2005 with a five-borough ride Sunday that ended in Lower Manhattan.

The ride, organized by Time’s Up!, an advocacy group, started in the outer boroughs with cyclists riding to locations where bike riders had been killed by motor vehicles. By late afternoon a group of 40 cyclists had gathered at the Manhattan side of the Williamsburg Bridge and headed Downtown.

Shortly afterwards, a large group of riders crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, heading into Manhattan. The two groups converged near City Hall and headed to their first Manhattan stop at Water St. and Governeur La.

It was here that, on September 16, Jen Shao, a 65-year-old Chinatown resident was killed by a private bus. On this late Sunday afternoon, the canyons of Downtown were silent and almost deserted as the mass of cyclists rode east on Wall St. and circled onto Governeur Lane, coming to a stop at the intersection with Water St.

On a light pole near the corner, a sign, hung by the Police Dept., was still taped to the pole. It said that someone had been killed on that corner and anyone with information was requested to call the Department’s “Tips” hotline, 800-577-TIPS. The group of riders gathered around Ryan Kuonen of Time’s Up!, who had led the ride in from Brooklyn.

She told the crowd that this was the corner where Shao had been killed by a private bus.

Kuonen then walked to a nearby tree and placed flowers and a miniature white ‘ghost bike’ with wings by its base. The ghost bike, created by the group Visual Resistance, is intended to remind passersby of a location where a bicyclist was killed by a motor vehicle.

The riders then did a bike lift, hoisting their rides over their heads in a moving, silent tribute to Shao. As rubber was lowered to pavement, one rider walked over to the memorial and placed a second clutch of flowers. The riders then pedaled north, proceeding along Houston St. and stopping at Avenue A to pause and lay flowers at the spot where Brandie Bailey, 21, was struck and killed by a garbage truck on May 8.

At the time the truck driver, who later claimed he didn’t know what had happened, continued driving north for over 20 blocks until finally being pulled over by police. Bailey lived in Brooklyn and used her bike to commute to work, as so many others do. She was a waitress at the Red Bamboo Vegetarian Soul Cafe in the West Village.

The ride continued on to Elizabeth and Houston Sts., where Andrew Ross Morgan, 25, was hit by a truck on June 22. As cyclists gathered on the narrow street, Kuonen stood by a full-size ghost bike. The crowd stood silently as Kuonen spoke of Morgan. She then placed flowers by the bike in his memory.

Morgan worked at the Blue Ribbon Bakery Market in the West Village. The bakery sponsored the semipro Blue Ribbon bike racing team, which Morgan, an avid cyclist, hoped to qualify for.

The ride’s final stop was a block away, near Lafayette St., where a sign and a miniature ghost bike with wings was affixed to a pole. A sign attached to the pole memorialized eight unnamed cyclists who were killed last year.

As they had at every stop along the ride, the 150 cyclists did a bike lift. Bill Di Paola, founder of Time’s Up!, said that, “While cyclists know of the hazards of riding on our unsafe streets, the community at large, unfortunately, only takes notice when one of us is killed,” said Noah Budnick, project director for Transportation Alternatives. “The demand for cycling and safe streets is outpacing the supply of safe streets.”


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