Private property sought for bike memorial

Ghost bike a tribute to fallen cyclist
October 6, 2019

A white ghost bike placed near the intersection of Kings Highway and Route 1 was a solemn tribute to a local cyclist who died Sept. 23 after he was struck 12 days earlier.

But when the bike was removed after sitting near the intersection for two days, some wondered why it couldn't remain a bit longer.

“People were definitely upset when the ghost bike was taken down,” said James Wilson, executive director of Bike Delaware. Dozens of people reacted on Bike Delaware's Facebook page after the bike was removed from the Route 1 intersection.

Wilson said when his group first heard that the Department of Transportation was planning to remove the bike memorial, members decided to take action. “We were afraid that it would either (a) be trashed or (b) disappear into a government warehouse like the Ark of the Covenant at the end of 'Raiders of the Lost Ark,'” he wrote in a social media post.

Wilson said the bike was taken to Lewes Cycle Sports, and group members are searching for private property near the crash scene to set up a permanent memorial. Brian Kellman, owner of Lewes Cycle Sports, said they have reached out to businesses in the area where Jay Kirby was struck and critically injured by a vehicle while riding his bicycle on Route 1. Kirby died Sept. 23, and the ghost bike was put up two days later at the intersection.

So far, Kellman said, no business has offered to host a memorial, but he is optimistic one may offer soon. “It would be nice to have the ghost bike back out there,” Kellman said. “It was very emotional when the bike came down; a lot of people were really angry.”

Although ghost bikes are memorials meant to remember a fallen cyclist, DelDOT Director of Community Relations C.R. McLeod said roadside memorials are not permitted in medians and within 10 feet of roadways.

“We understand the desire to memorialize Mr. Kirby, but chaining the bike to a speed limit sign on a median creates another potential hazard,” McLeod said.

If efforts to find private property for a memorial are not successful, McLeod said, the bike could be placed at the Lewes Transit Center or at the Memorial Garden in Smyrna in Kirby's memory.

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