Κυριακή, 27 Φεβρουαρίου 2011

Ghost bikes’ - a new international symbol

Ποδήλατα Ghost είναι μικρά και μελαγχολικά μνημόσυνα για τους ποδηλάτες που σκοτώνονται ή τραυματίζονται στο δρόμο...

The recent introduction of a 30 km/h speed limit in Dublin City Centre was welcomed by Ireland’s cycling community. The Dublin Cycling Campaign stated on their website that they “...strongly welcome the introduction of the Dublin City Centre 30 km/h zone in Dublin City Centre….It is particularly beneficial at night when cyclists often feel threatened by the high speeds of cars in the busy city centre environment.”

With its high levels of traffic congestion and government incentives to cycle to work, Dublin has seen an increased number of cyclists on the road in recent years. The more cyclists there are the better as this ’critical mass’ effect helps raise awareness of the presence of cyclists and together with the reduction in city centre speed limits, the streets of Dublin are becoming a safer place for those on two wheels. However, cycling in any city can still be a dangerous undertaking.

The greatest of these dangers, at least in Dublin, seems to be trucks making turns across the path of the cyclist . According to the Irish Times almost 75% of cyclists killed in Dublin were hit by HGVs turning left. This is how Zu Zhang Wong was killed in early 2009, prompting the erection of Ireland’s first 'Ghost Bike' in his memory.

According to ghostbikes.org “Ghost Bikes are small and somber memorials for bicyclists who are killed or hit on the street. A bicycle is painted all white and locked to a street sign near the crash site, accompanied by a small plaque.” The Ghost Bike movement is a now international effort to change motorist behavior and force city authorities to make the streets safer for cyclists. Like all great movements, it was started by one person who was prompted into action based on his personal experience “The Ghost Bike movement started in 2003 in St. Louis, when Patrick Van Der Tuin put up the first memorial cycle after witnessing an accident” [from ghostbikes.org]. Ghost bike memorials have spread to all corners of the globe with representation now in at least 19 countries.
There are some cycling campaigners who oppose the ‘Ghost Bikes’ memorials as they feel they make people think of cycling as being far more dangerous than it actually is. However, any campaign that both raises awareness and promotes discussion between the cycling and motoring communities has to be seen as a positive step forward.
The internet has played a vital role in enabling the viral spread of the ‘Ghost Bike’ movement.
Technology can help to facilitate discussions around cycling safety and on an even more practical level, cyclists can now access specific safety information by route or area, as demonstrated in this video clip by Tim Berners-Lee.
The future of cycle-safety lies not only in town planning but also in raising awareness and sharing information on a global scale.
 
ghostbikes.org

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