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Damaged 'ghost bikes' devastate families of men killed in car crashes

Family and friends said "ghost bikes" have been hit and damaged by cars at the very same spots they lost their loved ones.

DENVER — The memorials meant to honor cyclists killed by drivers on the road are getting hit, again.

"Ghost bikes" honor cyclists who have been struck and killed by vehicles on the road. They’re painted white and often adorned with flowers, photos and messages to the victims.

Bicycle safety advocates said two different "ghost bikes" have been damaged recently. In a tweet this week, the Denver Bicycle Lobby retweeted a photo of a damaged "ghost bike," and said it was the second one damaged in north Denver – both cases happened in north Denver.

“A couple of 'ghost bikes,' bikes that remember people killed by drivers, were on the side of the road, off the pavement, and somehow drivers managed to go off the road and hit the 'ghost bikes,'” wrote Allen Cowgill, of the Denver Bicycle Lobby. “It’s really frustrating that these memorials, these remembrances of people killed by drivers are now being damaged by drivers as well.”

One of the bikes honors Logan Rocklin, who died in December at the intersection of Sheridan and 38th Avenue. Police said a driver struck and killed Rocklin, then left the scene.

Nearly every day since, loved ones have stood at the intersection to stand and hold signage, looking for information about the case.

“We really want to make this corner safer,” said Rocklin’s sister, Andy Morris. “It would give some meaning to something that’s completely senseless.”

Credit: KUSA
Andy Morris stands near the ghost bike honoring of her brother, Logan Rocklin.

But not only is Morris grieving the loss of her younger brother – but she’s also struggling with the fact that his memorial "ghost bike" has been damaged multiple times.

“The bike was hit twice in four days,” she said. “It’s retraumatizing every time. We have friends and family who drive by this intersection – the first time it was hit. It was mangled, it was in pieces. The flowers were scattered. It was just heartbreaking and retraumatizing.”

Her family decorated the "ghost bike" themselves. She said her partner, Eric, who has stood at the intersection for weeks following Logan’s death, helped paint the bike with her father. Her mother painted part of the bike, too. And Morris wrote a favorite poem on the bike seat.

Initially, the bike was chained to a crosswalk pole on the corner. After it got hit, the family moved it further away from the roadway to a different pole. Now it sits there, mangled, but still present for people to see.


“It’s also really sobering for how dangerous the intersection is,” she said.

Morris and her family hoped the now-mangled bike will draw more attention to the dangers of that intersection. She said loved ones who have stood out there since her brother died have witnessed vehicles running red lights and clipping corners on a turn. They are still in the early days of grieving Logan’s loss, but also hoped to create some change and improve safety at that intersection in the future.

“The loss of life is just – it's staggering,” she said. “Just squeeze your loved ones, you don’t know how many opportunities you have left.”

Cowgill, with the Denver Bicycle Lobby, said the other damaged "ghost bike" honors Ainslie O’Neill, who was killed by a driver at 35th Avenue and Federal Boulevard.

“Her family and friends had a 'ghost bike' ceremony that many of us joined and it's just incredibly sad that it's now damaged because of a driver's actions,” Cowgill said.

“We know these arterial streets are dangerous. People are going to die at predictable levels and will continue to do so until we make the streets safer through design and it’s really a shame that this keeps happening and we're not seeing action on it yet.”



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