Closing Bell: 5th Ave Ghost Bike in Bloom

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One of the most wrenching sights in Park Slope is the ghost bike on 5th Avenue and Prospect Place, a memorial for Liz Padilla, the 28-year-old pro bono lawyer who was killed while riding her bicycle nearby in 2005. Sunflowers were recently added to the memorial, most likely because this week marks the third anniversary of Padilla’s death. GMAP

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  • Very sad. Condolences to the family.

  • That bike is why I’d never ride down the streets of brooklyn on my bike.

  • It’s been 3 years. When are they going to get rid of that thing? Think about how many people have died in public places. What if a permanent memorial was put up to block the sidewalk in all those locations? It’s sad, but you have to move on and even if you can’t do the rest of us have to try and find our way around this hazard while we weave in between strollers?

  • By all accounts she was a fantastic person. There is an annual running race held in her name every year in prospect park.

    Here’s more info on her: Elizabeth Padilla worked as a pro bono lawyer and legal services coordinator with the Brooklyn Bar Association and was a tireless volunteer with a number of organizations. After graduating from Cornell, Ms. Padilla spurned a six-figure starting salary with a Silicon Valley law firm to do poverty law.

    She worked at the Family Center in New York, providing pro bono legal services to indigent persons suffering from terminal illnesses, primarily people living with HIV-AIDS. She volunteered for Human Rights Watch, taught English as a second language to immigrant high school students, and worked in a soup kitchen run by New York Cares. A cyclist, swimmer and marathoner, as well as a personal trainer, Ms. Padilla was a member of the Achilles Club, an organization that enables people with all sorts of disabilities to participate in mainstream athletics.

  • That restaurant must love having this right outside.

  • It is very sad. It is one of the first things I noticed when I moved here. :(

  • I would never ride my bike in Brooklyn, either–it’s just a crapshoot with the traffic. And, though I have no idea if this poor young woman did… so many bicyclists here ignore traffic lights and stop signs that they’re often a danger to themselves–and us poor pedestrians. Perhaps not the proper place to post this, but… there I go.

  • denton

    4:57, this is an organized international program meant to call attention to the plight of cyclists everywhere. You can learn more at http://www.ghostbikes.org

    5:17, I actually think they do. If you pass at night you will see the restaurant using their lights to light the ghost bike. After all, restaurants are big users of bicycles.

  • I ride my bike in Brooklyn all of the time, including to work, but I know this is one of the potential hazards. She won’t be the first or unfortunately, the last.

  • Oh boy. 4:57,

    your attitude is both puzzling and sad. You seem angry and rather irrationally opposed to “that thing” which is a loving tribute and memorial to an amazing woman who gave of herself in spades to the community, and who died riding her bicycle on our streets.

    It is hopefully a powerful reminder to drivers to be cautious and watch for cyclists, and also serves to remind us all how special and not to be taken for granted our lives are. Or can be.

    It seems you may have some strong feelings being stirred up about that, or about her, or about yourself somehow falling short, but be mindful of how you say it.

  • Nokilissa, 3 years. do you know how many other people have died in that time? move on.

  • When they get rid of cars, I’ll ride my bike all over.

  • i see that bike every time i leave my building.

  • Some memorial. It gets cleaned up about once(maybe twice) a year. The rest of the time it’s full of dead flowers or dirty, disintegrating silk flowers. There is usually garbage stuck in or around the wheels left over from Miriam’s trash. Not a nice way to remember someone who was so caring and thoughtful.
    As a neighbor, I was there shortly after she was hit. A very sad morning for all the neighborhood indeed, but surely there’s a better way to honor her memory.

  • Biff Champion

    Rather than serving to scare people from riding bikes and getting in cars instead, I wish Liz’s tragic death would raise awareness of having to better protect cyclists (i.e., bike boxes, dividers separating bike lanes, etc.) and promote programs to encourage cycling, like those that have been successful in the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, etc. We need more bikes and less cars.

  • I used to bike all the time in London. When I came here I was astounded at how badly New York drivers (especially young guys) treat cyclists. I was equally astounded at how the cyclists here flout all vehicular laws like one-way streets and red lights. Its a free for all.

  • I am a regular cyclist and I can see both sides. It’s no more “unsafe” to flout red lights and stop signs than for pedestrians to jaywalk. And that’s one of the nice things about cycling, you get there faster that way.

    That said, many if not most cyclists here are in what I call the spandex speeder mode, going too fast, entitled, and disrespectful of pedestrians. I hold no brief for them either.

    We need more cyclists out there doing routine activities and errands. The more it is seen as a normal activity, the safer it will be. So, to those of you who are scared, don’t be. If you go slow, are watchful, ring your bell when you pass a car with a driver in it, it’s quite safe.

  • just ignore 11:28. his mother didn’t love him enough.

  • people who dont want to ride bikes in Bklyn, shouldn’t be in Bklyn.. u might have a better chance riding your bikes on the free and less busy streets of Manhattan!

  • Biff Champion

    cmu, right on. Cycling like a maniac doesn’t help those of us who cycle and don’t cut off cars, endanger other cyclists and pedestrians, etc.

    I think the memorial is a touching tribute – perhaps it could be moved to an appropriate permanent location and eventually serve as a tribute to all cyclists who lost their lives.

  • I’m continually astounded by the folks that never learned, “if you’ve got nothing nice to say, keep it to yourself,” and those that never learned, “if you’ve got a problem, come up with the solution.” Happy Friday, all ya miserable misathropes!

  • Biff Champion

    So eamus, what exactly was your solution, Mr. Ironic?

  • Eamus- most of us here are a pretty nice group (well, dammit! WE think so!!)but we have a few trolly types who love to write stuff to rile up everyone.

    I think the ghost bike is a very lovely and touching memorial, and in some ways much more meaningful than another plaque. It really pulls you into the reality of her death and still puts it in a context any of us can relate to. She didn’t die of old age, or an illness- she was killed simply going about her day and that holds a universal meaning for all of us.

    That said, like cmu and Biff, i think we need not just drivers who abide by the laws, but cyclists who do the same. I’ve been almost run down several times crossing a street- with the light, but a cyclist didn’t want to stop for the light.

    And wouldn’t it be great if people were inspired to donate to the Achilles Club in her memory? That’s something I plan to do.

  • The ghost bike IS a touching memorial and an effective reminder to both cyclists and motorists to be aware and careful while sharing the road. But while I don’t consider it an eyesore, per se, I think a better memorial could be erected.
    I always envision a bike- maybe a foot long – cast in some sort of clear ghostly resin and bolted to the signpost around eye level. Unfortunately I lack both the know-how and resources to go any further than that, but I think it’d be equally effective while avoiding some of the negatives that were mentioned in previous posts.

  • Or we could use that lovely bike rack that brownstoner showed us, painted white, with Padilla’s name on it as a permanent AND useful memorial. It even has a feminine vibe.

    http://www.brownstoner.com/brownstoner/archives/2008/06/wednesday_links_129.php#comments

  • Biff Champion

    cmu, that’s a good idea too. I think the white bicycle with the flowers is a beautiful memorial. I’m just wondering if it could have a designated permanent home (if this one is impractical) where it could be maintained and taken care of.

  • What if she was killed outside your home and not a restaurant? Would you still mind if the bike was there indefinitely? Why should a memorial be allowed because of who she was and not for everyone killed by a vehicle? I actually find all the highway memorials distracting and sometimes there are several in a one mile stretch. A bicycle is a bit much other than for a week or month. Put some air in those tires will you.

  • It’s still a public St. you can’t control something like that. You may as well tell cars not to park in front of your house. My feeling is the memorial is there not only because of who she was and how much she gave to the community but her death is iconic.

  • That’s fine, but then someone needs to tend to it on a regular basis. It’s not an honor to her memory to have a garbage strewn memorial decorated with fake weather beaten flowers with a plaque on top of it. Surely she deserves more than that.

  • In other words:

    I walk past this every day and I wish that someone would fix it up more often. I mean, it would only take a minute. Someone who passes it by pretty often should take a minute to do that. Just think: it would take less time to actually fix it up than it does to write comment after comment about it not being fixed up!

  • Actually 10:05 , passersby are not the people who should tend to a memorial. That responsibility should fall to the party who installed it. It’s not fair to plunck something down and then expect others who have no real part in it to care for it. If Ghost Bike is going to install these thing they need to maintain them too.

  • for those who live in the nabe, and “just can’t stand the sight of the ‘untended’ memorial,” ya know YOU can do something too!!!!!!!

    just go to http://www.ghostbikes.org to learn

    1) that numerous folks have cared for their “neighborhood” ghostbike (e.g. Andrew Morgan’s)
    2) how to do it
    3) why the memorials exist
    4) the story behind each ghost bike (for NYC – http://www.ghostbikes.org/ghostbikes/New+York+City)

    to paraphrase a famous line, its people folks. think beyond the bicycle itself!

    peace out!

  • jeez, whatever happened to d.i.y.? i guess there’s no point arguing with you, other “guest.” some people do stuff, other people just complain. you’re just the brooklyn equivalent of mr. wilson yelling “you kids, get off my lawn!”

  • i support a permanent memorial to fallen cyclists of NYC. I am sure there is an intersection in Manhattan somewhere covered in blood that would be very appropriate. It could include a wall w/ every name….

  • People loved her. She died. They want to honor her memory.

  • I hope this bike is there 10 years from now, longer. It’s a quiet, beautiful tribute and it makes me sad but I like seeing it everytime I pass.

    I think most people with a brain understand by leaving it there it’s more than a memorial to one person and one death but rather to all bicyclists hurt or killed. I’m really surprised to see some people are dense and don’t get that.

    All this said, I am terrified of people on bicycles, as a pedestrian. The political power of this group makes it so you can’t even say that, for fear of sounding politically incorrect. Which sucks. They run red lights ALL the time, whizzing by me literally not even glancing at me as they nearly knock me over. No they do not toot the horn or ring the bell on their bike. I will wholeheartedly support rights and privileges of bicycle riders when they respect and support my rights as a pedestrian, especially while I am CROSSING THE STREET ON MY RIGHT OF WAY!
    Hi, nope, I never jay walk. Knowing that will be the response from bicyclists because that’s always their only retort to a pedestrian complaining about nearly being hit by a bike. I’m not retarded, I know how people drive in NYC. So I mind the traffic lights. Many bicyclists are in denial how many bad drivers there are here, because they are super reckless.