The fourth annual memorial ride and walk for cyclists and pedestrians killed in New York City took place yesterday. Groups of cyclists met with families of the deceased at the sites of 14 fatal bike accidents in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan. Memorials were held at each accident scene, and new "Ghost Bikes"—painted white with small plaques—were put in place as detailed reminders of the fatalities. The DOT has yet to release official numbers on fatalities in 2008, but according to last year's report, 23 cyclists were killed in 2007, up from 18 in 2006.
The Village Voice's Roy Edroso was in downtown Manhattan yesterday, where the memorial rides through the boroughs converged. At Delancey and Bowery, approximately 80 activists joined with the family of Rasha Shamoon of Greenpoint, who was struck by an SUV on August 5th, 2008 and died several days later. The driver was not charged with any wrongdoing, and Shamoon's family says that not only was it "really hard to get answers" about the accident, but police only took statements from the driver and two of his friends.
Leah Todd, a volunteer for the NYC Street Memorial Project, says, "We have to ban the word accident from our vocabulary. All crashes are preventable through better design and changing the culture of our streets to foster mutual respect among all who travel on them." Lizi Rahman, whose 22-year-old son Asif was killed earlier this year, is campaigning for a bike lane on Queens Boulevard. In a statement, she says, "I hope the ride will remind New Yorkers about the senseless and careless deaths of many innocent bicyclists, which cause a permanent scar in the hearts of their parents, siblings, relatives and friends."