As you’ve traveled throughout Los Angeles, you’ve likely come across painted white bikes surrounded by flowers. These “ghost bikes” memorials commemorate a life lost in a bike crash. On March 29, Los Angeles City Council members unanimously voted to allow 20 permanent roadside memorials to be put up throughout the city on an annual basis. They’ll commemorate those who have lost their lives.
A San Fernando Valley councilman spearheaded the effort to get the memorials approved starting last year as part of the city’s Vision Zero initiative. That program aims to do away with all traffic-related deaths in Los Angeles.
He was motivated to put his support behind this initiative by a Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officer. He’d previously responded to a fatal bicycle crash scene in Woodland Hills where a 15-year-old boy died after being struck by a motorist.
In requesting their vote, he explained to fellow council members how the memorials don’t just commemorate those who have died in bicycle accidents. He said that they also encourage motorists to be more aware of cyclists on the road.
He noted that most ghost bike memorials are only temporary. He said that these will serve as a more permanent reminder for all motorists to safely share the road.
City council members will start having Department of Transportation workers erect these memorials throughout Los Angles with the consent of victims’ families. The square traffic signs will feature a drawing of a bicycle, the decedent’s name and a message about how motorists can safely share the road with bicyclists. The signs will cost the city $9,700 per year.
In 2018, some 21 bicyclists lost their lives in traffic crashes in Los Angeles. Bicycle safety advocates have been successful in petitioning the council members to install protected bike lanes along the city’s busiest thoroughfares in recent years. They hope that those coupled with these memorials will leave pedestrians and bicyclists feeling safer and reduce their fatality rates.
California motorists cause fatal bicycle accidents by speeding, making illegal turns, failing to yield to their riders’ right of way or by running red lights. Drinking or texting and driving are responsible for these crashes as well. Deceased bicyclists’ family members should consult with a bicycle accidents attorney. They can advise them of their right to file a wrongful death claim against the negligent driver who took their loved one’s life.