Saturday, December 3, 2016

'Ghost Bikes' Mark Tragedy Site Or Advertising Ploy?

Fairhope, Alabama

This is an updated version of an earlier report.

N. Greeno Road last Friday


What appeared at first to be a memorial to a beloved cyclist who was run over and killed at the exact spot on N. Greeno Road ten years ago may have turned out just to be an advertising gimmick by a sporting goods store.

A Times reporter noticed the bikes chained to a fence on the east side of the highway about a week ago; at night the bikes appeared white in the amber street light, but turned out to be orange in full daylight.

We assumed they were a form of a riderless "ghost bike" tribute, but based on feedback from our readers and the fact they have been removed (since yesterday) -- they probably had some less-noble meaning.

At any rate we hope the publicity will raise awareness for bicycle safety and encourage motorists to share the road as required by state law.

Check back here for updates.

From "Ghost Bikes are small and somber memorials for bicyclists who are killed or hit on the street. A bicycle is painted all white and locked to a street sign near the crash site, accompanied by a small plaque. They serve as reminders of the tragedy that took place on an otherwise anonymous street corner, and as quiet statements in support of cyclists' right to safe travel.

From a media report about the fatality there in 2005:

"A hit-and-run driver killed bicyclist and environmental enthusiast Larry McDuff, 65, as he was riding in Fairhope on Monday, a little more than two years after the victim's wife, Ann, was fatally struck by a motorist while biking. 

Larry McDuff was headed south on the western shoulder of Greeno Road, about 200 yards south of Volanta Avenue in Fairhope around 8:40 a.m., when he was hit by a black Jeep Cherokee, according to Fairhope Police Cpl. Craig Sawyer. 

Investigators said they found a slightly damaged 1991 Cherokee parked in a wooded area near Young Street and Kirkman Lane around 3 p.m. After matching the vehicle to materials recovered from the crash site, police said they believe the driver of that SUV struck McDuff. 

About four hours later, the owner of the Jeep came to Fairhope Police Headquarters with her 17-year-old son and investigators interviewed him about the collision, police Cpl. Craig Sawyer said in a news release. 

After being questioned, the teenager was released to his mother's custody "in accordance with established juvenile procedures" pending a formal charge of felony leaving the scene of an accident, the release said. 

The name of the youth, a Spanish Fort resident, was withheld because of his juvenile status, Sawyer said. The Baldwin County District Attorney's Office will evaluate the case to determine whether he will be prosecuted as a juvenile or adult, and whether there will be additional charges, he said. 

Investigators believe that when McDuff was hit he was at least two feet from the closest traffic lane on Greeno, which is also known as U.S. 98. 

Crews had been working on a pedestrian and bicycle trail on the side of the busy highway, but Sawyer said McDuff had been riding several feet from the construction site. 

McDuff was wearing a long-sleeve, lime-green reflective shirt and a helmet when he was clipped by the vehicle, according to authorities. It was initially unclear whether McDuff was knocked from his bicycle or run over, Sawyer said. 

A longtime nature lover, gospel musician and vegetarian, and now-retired salesman, Larry McDuff's cycling procedures changed dramatically when Ann McDuff was killed in 2003 while riding on Baldwin County 27 (now Alabama 181), friends and relatives said Monday." 


Publisher said...

Some of our readers indicate these may not be ghost bikes after all, but some sort of marketing tool since they are painted orange not the usual white.

Since Mr. McDuff died in the precise spot (southbound lanes) ten years ago, it is hard to believe its just coincidental though: bringing attention to the tragedy that occurred there may raise driver awareness for bike safety ... regardless of the color of the bikes.

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, a few weeks ago I saw several orange bicycles like this up at the intersection of 98 and Bass Pro Drive. I noticed them for the first time a few days later at the Ag fields shown here. I was curious what the back story was.

Anonymous said...

What ever happened to the kid that hit him ? Was he arrested?

Anonymous said...

If I recall correctly, the family did not want to prosecute. The young man repeated his offense later on and finally sentenced.

Anonymous said...

It is a marketing campaign.