Jay Kirby memorial has returned

Ghost bike placed along Route 1 near crash site where avid cyclist was struck
September 4, 2020

Story Location:
Route 1
Kings Highway
Lewes, DE 19958
United States

The memorial ghost bike for Lewes cyclist Jay Kirby has been reinstalled along Route 1 just feet from the scene of the crash that took his life.

Kirby, 79, an avid cyclist who had logged thousands of miles riding the roads of Sussex County, was struck by a car Sept. 11, 2019, as he rode his bike on the northbound Route 1 bike lane near Lewes at the Kings Highway turnoff.

According to Delaware State Police, for unknown reasons, an 89-year-old Millsboro man driving a Cadillac did not see the bicyclist, and while changing lanes, his vehicle struck Kirby’s bike, throwing him off.

Kirby, who was wearing a helmet, was transported to Christiana Hospital in Wilmington, where he remained for nearly two weeks before succumbing to his injuries Sept. 23.

The ghost bike was put into place in the cement median at the intersection two days later, but was removed by state transportation officials because it was in the public right of way. It took almost a year for the memorial to be reinstalled. More than 630 roadside memorial ghost bikes are placed all over the world at crash sites where cyclists have been killed or seriously injured.

According to Bike Delaware, a statewide advocacy and education organization, the stretch of Route 1 between Lewes and Rehoboth where the crash occurred is the single most dangerous road for cyclists in Delaware.

Last December, Bike Delaware proposed major new infrastructure to finally solve this long-standing bicycle safety problem. An engineering firm received the official go-ahead to start work on evaluating this proposal in May.

“The reinstalled ghost bike will be a daily reminder to all of us. We need new safety infrastructure for bicycles – as soon as possible – to prevent more bicycle crashes on Route 1,” according to Bike Delaware.

Kirby, a Navy veteran, was an active member of Sussex Cyclists and had ridden more than 100,000 miles over the past 25 years, including a solo 4,451-mile cross-country trek in 2000. He was born in Fremont, N.C., and lived in Georgetown before moving to Lewes with his wife Michele Williams.

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