Vandals stealing memorial 'ghost bikes'

Posted at: 04/17/2013 6:55 PM
Updated at: 04/17/2013 6:56 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Nothing is left but hardware of David Anderson’s “ghost bike” – a roadside memorial for bicyclists who lose their lives in traffic accidents. But there may be a jail cell waiting for the vandals who tore it apart and stole the major parts, one at a time.

That’s because state law offers up to six months in jail and a $500 dollar fine for anyone found guilty of destroying or defacing a roadside memorial, like the traditional descansos  that have been familiar sights in New Mexico for centuries. The city of Albuquerque has affirmed, through a city council resolution, that ghost bikes are descansos too.

David Anderson was killed on the Paseo bike trail when a car careened off the Paseo del Norte roadway three years ago.  Friends and family and fellow bicyclists started the memorial right away. Then this spring somebody decided to play games with it.

“First the handlebars were gone,” said cyclist Ralph Manabe. “Then the tires were gone. I came by the other day and I noticed the frame was gone. I don’t know why people do stuff like that. I mean that’s pretty low, I mean it really is.”

David Anderson’s wife Sherry was riding with him when the car slammed into him and killed him. She goes to the memorial site to pray and remember her husband.

“So when I go there are and part of the bike is missing and it’s been tampered with and it’s been fooled with, it’s like someone takes a part of your heart and just rips it out again.

“Whether it’s a ghost bike or a cross or something else, those things are there for family and friends to remember,” said Jennifer Buntz of Duke City Wheelmen, a group that crusades for cycling safety. “Those things are sacred. They are incredibly important.”

“We want to catch and stop whoever is doing this,”  Sherry Anderson said. “There are criminal penalties and it’s at the point where they need to be held accountable.

There will eventually be another ghost bike for David Anderson. His family and his many friends will make sure of that. And they know the ghost bike vandal will probably strike again. But maybe someday there will be a payback.

There’s always a payback.

And maybe it will come in the form of time in jail.