Thursday, July 16, 2020

BikeWalkLee: A reminder of fallen riders

BikeWalkLee Column ‘Go Coastal’
The News-Press, July 16, 2020
by Ken Gooderham

You may have seen them along the side of local roads… bikes painted white, sometimes adorned with flowers or a sign, fastened to a post, tree or other immovable object.

They’re called “ghost bikes", meant as a memorial and reminder that a cyclist was injured or (more often) killed there.

It’s a phenomenon that started in 2003 in St. Louis, prompted by a cyclist being struck by a vehicle. When people saw the impact the white two-wheeler had on drivers, a tradition began to post them around the city. It soon spread to other areas of the U.S. and, soon, around the globe.

The first ghost bike reportedly appeared in Lee County in 2011, marking the spot on the Sanibel Causeway where a cyclist was killed. Since then they have shown up to mark an injury or fatality, a memorial for those who died and a reminder for those who drive by the site every day.

No one claims responsibility for their appearance, not that it matters. The important message is awareness… for drivers to watch out for cyclists, for cyclists to ride defensively.

A look at the Caloosa Riders website underscores the need: The club lists 39 cyclists who have been killed by motor vehicles since 2011, including four (so far) this year. This may not be a complete list of fatalities… which is even more unnerving.

So if you’re driving or biking past one of these memorials, take a moment to remember the cyclist who died. More important take more than a moment to remember that cycling safety is the responsibility of both the driver and the cyclist.

Drivers need to watch out for cyclists, drive sensibly and recognize that bicycle are vehicles with the same right to use the road as motorists have.

Cyclists need to be smart, be visible, be predictable in their riding and be careful whenever they share the road (or, actually, anytime).

Image courtesy


When will racing resume?

With the coronavirus on the rebound locally and statewide and no sure bets on what lies ahead, expect to see more scheduled races go virtual (or just go away) as Labor Day comes and goes.

No surprise… who would want to put themselves at risk for even a mild case of Covid with so much uncertainty about the disease’s course (and even more about the timetable to see a viable vaccine arrive).

It won’t take a government order to keep events on hold (although limits on crowd size and the continued need for social distancing help). Like any other activity that easily draws too many people and brings them too close together, most sensible folks just won’t take that risk.

Nor should they. What little we hear about the long-term effects of Covid-19 so not encouraging – and that’s with very little real research on its impact thanks to its young age and very impressive infectiousness.

But to hear doctors exclaim that even mild cases of the virus have impacts on so many parts of the body should give everyone pause. It should also give everyone (not just the at-risk groups) real motivation to keep taking the common-sense preventive steps to reduce the risk of infection.

Remember: Coronavirus doesn’t care who you are or what political views you espouse. It cares about how vulnerable your health is and how diligent your efforts to control its spread end up being.

Ready to ride or run?

Nothing new on the race calendars, just virtual events and the promise of racing to return come the fall (Covid willing). Keep checking the usual websites for updates… be prepared to sign up, but also be prepared to deal with postponements if the rules on gatherings don’t change.


Have a favorite route you like to bike, or a unique walk you’d like to share with others? Tell us about it at, and maybe we can feature it in an upcoming column.

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Ken Gooderham writes this on behalf of BikeWalkLee, a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County — streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, statistics and background online at 

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