Activists to install a ‘Tomb of the Unknown Cyclist’ at Boro Hall

Volunteers painted “ghost bikes” for next week’s memorial ride. Here, Jessie Singer puts on the finishing touches.
Photo by Ed Glazar

Seven “ghost bikes” to memorialize cyclists killed in accidents were installed this year in Brooklyn — and next week, a sixth white-painted shrine will be placed near Borough Hall to honor victims of unreported collisions.

It’s a tomb of the unknown biker, if you will.

The location is being kept under wraps until the annual ghost bike tour and memorial ride on March 13, but organizers believe it makes a powerful statement about how cyclists are seen on the roads of this city.

“We want to remember the people we know nothing about,” said Ellen Belcher, a volunteer with the NYC Street Memorial Project, which organizes the tour and installs the ghost bikes. “We hope someday the [death toll] goes down to zero.”

Last year’s fallen Brooklyn cyclists included a 45-year-old homeless man and a beloved 23-year-old artist-barista, part of a reported citywide death toll of 16.

The number of bike fatalities has been notoriously — and controversially — unclear for years, although that might change with a new ordinance that requires cops to track and post deaths and injuries citywide.

Volunteers from the Street Memorial Project spray-painted old bikes last Saturday in preparation for next Sunday’s ride, which will begin at scattered times and locations throughout the city and will converge at Borough Hall at 5 pm. The group chose to congregate in Brooklyn because “cycling numbers are up” and “bike culture is thriving” here, said Leah Todd, a spokesperson for the memorial project.

Thriving, yes, but also dangerous. This year’s ride will memorialize 23-year-old Jasmine Herron, who was crushed by a city bus at Atlantic Avenue and Washington Street; 38-year-old Jerome Johnson, who was hit by a cab on Linden Boulevard near Van Siclen Avenue; 45-year-old Dominik Perez, who was struck by a town car on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway near the Atlantic Avenue exit; 18-year-old Jake McDonough, who was struck by a car on Flatbush Avenue at Beverly Road; 67-year-old Diego Rodriguez, who died in Bushwick; and 23-year-old Timothy Campbell, who was hit in East Williamsburg.

A seventh ghost bike was secured at Linden Boulevard and Schenck Avenue to honor an unidentified cyclist.

“Even with new bike lanes, the number of deaths has stayed consistent,” said Todd.

Some cyclists plan to use the ride as a chance to make a statement about keeping the death toll down.

“The whole world is watching us,” said cycling advocate Ed Glazar. “And ghost bikes are a form of visual protest.”

Cyclists will gather at Irving Square (Wilson Avenue and Halsey Street in Bushwick) at 1 pm or at Linton Park (Dumont and Miller avenues in East New York) at 1:40 pm. Pedestrian supporters will meet at St. Anthony of Padua Church (Manhattan Avenue and Milton Street in Greenpoint) at 1 pm. There will be a final ceremony at Borough Hall (209 Joralemon St. between Adams and Court streets in Downtown) at 5 p.m. For info, visit www.ghostbikes.org.

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