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City accidentally removed ghost bike installed for man hit, killed while cycling in Chicago

City of Chicago workers remove ghost bike by mistake
City of Chicago workers remove ghost bike by mistake 02:32

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A well-known memorial honoring a cyclist in Chicago has been missing for more than a month—and it turned out the city removed it by mistake.

The ghost bike was set up in April 2022 on DuSable Lake Shore Drive in Grant Park for Gerardo Marciales, who was killed the previous winter when he was hit by a car while riding a Divvy bike.

Now, the ghost bike is gone.

"This is a city trying to, you know, get people to forget," said Christina Whitehouse, a cycling advocate and founder of Bike Lake Uprising. "Gerardo's ghost bike is by far the most well-known ghost bike in the city of Chicago."

Whitehouse herself helped install the ghost bike.

"People across the country and other countries know about Gerardo's ghost bike," she said.

In February 2022, Marciales was on a Divvy bike waiting to cross DuSable Lake Shore Drive at Balbo Drive. A driver ran a red light and hit him.

Nine months after Marciales died, another driver destroyed his memorial. Whitehouse helped reinstall the same bike in late 2022.

Now, the original ghost bike is gone—missing since May 7. Its replacement this time will be the third installation, Whitehouse said.

This time, the city claims workers did not recognize a memorial.

"Two city employees were documented in a video recording removing Gerardo's ghost bike," Whitehouse said.

A spokesperson for the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation said: "DSS workers inadvertently removed the bike, as it was no longer white and did not have a memorial plaque distinguishing it as a ghost bike. Upon discovery of the error, DSS immediately reached out to the Alders in the 4th and the 42nd Wards, apologized and discussed the importance of memorial ghost bikes with the employees."

Marciales suspects the removal is tied to NASCAR race day next month.

"I don't think it's a coincidence that the ghost bike was removed immediately before NASCAR," she said.

Last year, the bike was visible from the NASCAR route. But the city denies that motivated the move.

But Whitehouse said Marciales' ghost bike will come back for a third time.

"We are planning on reinstalling it before NASCAR," Whitehouse said.

Bike Lane Uprising is preparing a new ghost bike and memorial plaque for Marciales.

His fiancé, Jaime Bolognone, said:  "This will be the third time we will replace Gerardo's ghost bike memorial. While the grief is with me every day, each replacement of the memorial bike brings back the emotions of the day I lost him. With every new bike, we affirm our commitment to remember and honor Gerardo and to fight for the safety he was denied."

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