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Ghost Riders in the 'Burgh

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On the morning of March 20, Shannon Mominee was riding his bicycle to work down Verona Road in the East End. As he descended the hill toward the intersection with Graham Boulevard, he picked up speed. Suddenly, a Ford F-350 truck coming the opposite way crossed over into his lane while making a left turn. They collided, and Mominee broke his wrist and a number of teeth. He ended up with stitches in his mouth and a wound from part of a handlebar that jabbed into his thigh.

 

Only two months after his accident and still retaining some steel spikes in his arm, Mominee was playing his first show back with his band, Aydin, on May 21 at the Mister Roboto Project. The show, put together by bandmate Karen Brooks, was a benefit for Ghost Bike Pittsburgh, a new group that plans to place mangled bicycles, painted white, near sites where cyclists have been hit by cars.

 

Modeled after a successful project in St. Louis, Ghost Bike hopes to increase visibility and concern for bicyclists' safety, says Brooks. "It'll make people stop and think. They'll be up at lots of sites, all around the city. They'll be impossible to miss."

 

The impetus for the project came from a rash of recent bike-car collisions around the city. "It seems like it was just an amazingly bad winter for bike accidents," says Brad Quartuccio, a Ghost Bike proponent.

 

The project is inexpensive, as the only resources needed are chains, signs, and old, unusable bikes, which organizers garner from Free Ride, the local recycle-a-bike program. Bikes will be chained near accident sites with red homemade signs that note that a cyclist was struck and point those interested toward the project's Web site, www.ghostbike.org.

 

In the handful of other cities where the project has been taken on, there have been varying degrees of success. Although the first ghost bike in St. Louis was removed by unknown people, many others stayed up for months. In San Francisco, nearly all disappeared immediately. Ghost Bike members have little idea how long the bikes will remain up in Pittsburgh.

 

Says Brooks: "I guess that all depends on how the police and Public Works handle it."

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