The Story of “Ghost Bikes”

If you’ve ever come across a “ghost bike” locked to a street sign on a busy street corner, blended into the busy urban backdrop, you may have wondered what it was. These bikes, with their skeletal white frames, are a makeshift memorial to cyclists who were killed or injured there. The very first ghost bike was erected in St. Louis around 2003. When Patrick Van Der Tuin was in his mid-20s, he saw a car drift into a bike lane and hit a female cyclist from behind. Her injuries were minor, but the incident stuck with him. The accident was about a block from his home, someplace he rode his own bike daily. So, he got his hands on a bunch of junk bikes, painted them white, and started combing police reports for locations of bike accidents and fatalities. Now 36, Patrick serves as executive director of St. Louis BWorks, a nonprofit that provides free bikes to kids in exchange for learning about bicycle safety and maintenance.