No plans to remove Northern Ireland’s first ‘Ghost Bike’

Michelle Loughran examines the appearance of ghost bikes in belfast

There are no plans to remove a ghost bike memorial from Belfast’s Ormeau Bridge.

The bike has been placed there in memory of south Belfast cyclist Michael Caulfield who tragically died on April 15 in 2011 as a result of a collision with a lorry.

Alliance councillor for the area Catherine Curran said she personally found the gesture very moving. She said: “The bike has been placed there by the cycling organisation Critical Mass and in terms of raising awareness about safety this is very positive.”

The bike is locked to the bridge’s railings and is close to the spot where the accident happened. It has been painted white and bears the name of the 56-year-old father of four and the date on which he died.

Catherine said any decision to remove the bike lies with either the roads service or the police as the bridge is not a council responsibility.

She said: “There is a technicality about how the bike is fixed to the railings. If it is permanently fixed by a chain it is the property of the Road Service. But if it is by cables then the decision could lie with the police but as far as I am aware there are no plans to remove it.”

A road service spokeswoman said they appreciate the sensitivity of roadside memorials like the ghost bike but stressed that it is important the public are discouraged from erecting roadside memorials for safety reasons.

She said: “Roads Service will investigate any memorials that are considered to cause distraction to the safety of the road user or impact on the operation or safety of the public surface. If Roads Service considers that a roadside memorial should be removed, this will be dealt with in a sensitive manner, where possible.”

Ghost bikes originated in the United States and where first spotted in Saint Louis, Missouri in 2003. They are painted white and serve as a memorial to cyclists who have lost their lives on the road. There are over 500 identified ghost bikes at 180 locations throughout the world but this is the first in Northern Ireland.

Eamon Burns a spokesman for Phoenix Cycling Club in the Ormeau area said he had heard about the ghost bike and thinks it is a great idea to help make motorists more aware of cyclists on the road.

He said: “I did sign-on and timekeeping at a club race back in 2008 when another cyclist Davy McCall was knocked down and killed by a speeding car. I will never forget the evening when that happened.”

Eamon said the following year flowers were laid at the spot in memory of Mr McCall. He said if someone had thought of it a ghost bike would have been a more fitting tribute and reminder of what happened but “perhaps it is still not too late to do that”.

 

 

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