'Ghost bikes' vanishing from Houston streets

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Have you ever wondered about those white bikes along the side of the road? Each of those bikes marks the spot where a cyclist was hit and killed.

Richard Tomlinson, a cyclist himself, almost single-handedly maintains Houston's ghost bikes. Each bike is stripped of its chains and gears, is spray-painted white, and is installed at the location where a cyclist was hit and killed. So far, Tomlinson, along with a small group of volunteers, have placed 53 ghost bikes in the Houston area.

The ghost bikes are part of an international project to memorialize cyclists -- there's even a website that maps nearly every ghost bike in the world.

He says recently, nearly a dozen of those bikes have been vandalized, or have simply disappeared. Now, he plans to add flowers and a plaque with the cyclist's name and date of the accident to try to keep trouble away.

"Even the most hardened thief has a heart, I'd like to think," Tomlinson says.

Tomlinson says he will continue his efforts. His mission is twofold: memorialize the cyclist and make drivers aware of their presence on Houston's very busy streets.

For Desiree Hibner, the bike memorial is very personal. Her brother, Michael Demny was killed at just 13 years old in 1996. She regularly visits the monument to his memory.

"It just means a lot to my family," she says.

If you would like more information, visit Houston's Ghost Bike website.
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