Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists is best known for placing white-painted bicycles – ghost bikes – at the location where a cyclist has been killed in the Greater Toronto Area. The non-profit group is volunteer run, currently led by Geoffrey Bercarich, Joey Schwartz and Jun Nogami.
Geoffrey Bercarich has been putting up ghost bikes for 15 years.
I see bike memorials as creating a landmark, like a lighthouse. It’s a place of caution but also a show of solidarity with fellow cyclists. People all over the world understand what they mean when they see them. I would consider ghost bikes shrines. And now we’ve created this community of likeminded people that really needed these memorials and who are committed to safeguarding the memorials that exist.
When I install a ghost bike, it’s often in an area where traffic is so congested and aggressive you can actually taste the gasoline and the fear in the road. You need to use a tactile approach when you’re creating a memorial. It creates a sense of history and recognition from people. And looking to the future, I can’t change the laws, a lot of older advocates are never going to change the laws, but young people can, and putting a bike on a sidewalk feels like a direct way of reaching out to them.
Earlier this evening, ARC members installed a ghost bike & lit five candles in memory of 5-year-old cyclist killed by a driver at Elm & Hurontario in Mississauga on Tuesday May 4th. #momentofsilence #biketo #cycling pic.twitter.com/ATj8vSDtjK
— ARC (@RespectTO) May 7, 2021
I would like to see laws imposed penalizing motorists for their disregard of life. I think people get off way too easily. If you’re getting behind the wheel, you’re taking up a heavy weight of responsibility. And being tired, being drunk, being distracted shouldn’t be an excuse. Court cases are very biased against cyclists. If you drive a car, and you injure someone on a bike, chances are the driver has significantly more means to defend themselves in a court of law than the cyclist does. I see it all the time. People back in the driver’s seat after killing someone. I think seeing actual consequences for their actions would put the fear back in motorists.
This interview first appeared in Broadview’s March 2022 issue with the title “Geoffrey Bercarich.”
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