Parks Department confiscates memorial to slain cyclist

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A “ghost bike” memorial to a slain cyclist that mysteriously vanished from Marine Park on July 9 was confiscated by the NYC Parks Department, a spokeswoman confirmed.

As a courtesy, Parks officials allowed the white-painted bike honoring 29-year-old Robert Sommer — who was struck crossing Avenue U near E. 33rd Street on May 12 — to remain at the site of the collision for several weeks, but a spokeswoman claimed the monument fell afoul of park rules banning “unattended personal belongings,” and defended the agency’s decision to take it down.

“We respect Robert Sommer’s memory and know that his loss has impacted his family, friends, and the Marine Park community. After an approximate two-month courtesy period, we removed the bike yesterday,” said Anessa Hodgson, a spokeswoman for the Parks Department.

The Parks Department’s ruling to ax the ghost bike devastated Sommer’s family, and the New York City Street Memorial Project — which installed the Marine Park Ghost Bike, along with dozens of others throughout the city — is attempting to work with the agency to restore it, according to one member.

“We are in touch with Robert Sommer’s family, who are very upset that the Parks Department removed his ghost bike,” said Ellen Belcher. “We are working this issue and hopefully... we will reinstall the ghost bike very soon.”

This isn’t the first time the city has drawn heat for carting off the haunting memorials to slain cyclists, and the Department of Sanitation backed off its controversial policy of trashing the bikes after advocates mobilized to protect the tributes in 2010, according to a Streetsblog report.

And with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s focus on street safety as part of his Vision Zero plan, coupled with a nine-year cease fire between city agencies and the ghost bikes, the Parks Department decision to confiscate the memorial struck one advocate as disappointing.

“We’ve got lots of memorials and ghost bikes are well established, so it would be a shame if it was taken down,” said Eric McClure, executive director of StreetsPac, which raises funds for transit-minded political candidates.

Sommer was one of 15 cyclists killed throughout the city this year, 11 of whom died in Brooklyn, including 28-year-old Devra Freelander and 57-year-old Ernest Askew, who died just days apart.

Reach reporter Chandler Kidd at or by calling (718) 260–2525. Follow her at
Updated 10:05 am, July 11, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Jack from Brooklyn says:
July 10, 2019, 5:45 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Only the completely deranged would complain about trash being removed from the streets.
July 10, 2019, 5:47 pm
Jack from Brooklyn says:
Notice that the yellow box is still there, @NYCParks you should be ashamed.
July 10, 2019, 5:58 pm
people die everywhere says:
It's sad whenever we loose a loved one. However a cyclist death in no worse than any other, yet we don't see memorials going up in every square foot of our landscape, worse yet a symbol for what's being defind as a group, "a bike group" - this is where they are wrong in principle. There's a risk in everything we do, yet urban biking takes risk beyond any sence of reason and it shouldn't be memorialized but rather detered. There are laws abt property being left improperly in the public domain, and it's NYC's duty to remove it when it occurs.
July 10, 2019, 7:11 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Hey people, STFU!
July 10, 2019, 7:20 pm
Jack from Brooklyn says:
people die everywhere: so when you, one of your kids, or grandkids get mowed down by a speeding reckless driver, I'll be sure to make sure the blood and brain matter are cleaned up ASAP so everyone can forget you and that they were killed because drivers in cars are more important than a life.
July 10, 2019, 9:34 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
You want to make sure your loved ones are remembered? Buy them a plot in a cemetery and a tombstone. Do not litter the streets with trash.
July 10, 2019, 9:40 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
The ghost bike also obstructs a bus stop, so it cannot stay there. The memorial sign was left in place, even though it violates DOT rules. If a permanent memorial is desired by the family, then the proper permits should be obtained and it should comply with the park's rules.
July 10, 2019, 9:52 pm
The Elf who was born in Brooklyn and still lives there says:
As apart time bicycles rider who often rides in Marine Park,I agree a gosht bike for a memorial seems like a good idea. I have no problem with that. My concern is at what point does this memorial becomes an eye sore.Considering the elements,especially in Marine Park, next to the bay,erosion and rust comes to mind. Now it’s an eye sore, unbecoming a memorial. So I ask ,who’s going to take care of this memorial? Is it going to be the tax payers, or is someone going to step up to maintain it. I have no issue if someone volunteers, but I definitely don’t agree with the taxpayers footing the bill. I work to hard for this memorial becoming a tax burden. May I suggest one memorial for all the bicyclist. Maybe a granite wall with all their names carved in like the veterans memorials,or something similar.
July 10, 2019, 9:58 pm
Everyone says:
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge is a POS that nobody will care about when he dies. All is well.
July 10, 2019, 10:23 pm
Dee from Bay Ridge says:
Slain? I think hit by a car would be a more appropriate word to use here. My only child was murdered in Bay Ridge. People are murdered or kill themselves every single day. Crosses on the highway. White bikes attached to lamp poles. It’s too much. This whole city would be one huge Memorial if we acknowledged every death. That’s why we have Cemetaries. It’s not right to expect people who do not know the deceased to even have to think about them, which you cannot help but do. Mourn your dead privately and I ‘ll do the same. Life is tough enough as it is.
July 11, 2019, 10:45 am
Toni from Marine Park. says:
It was disturbing seeing the memorial bike just tossed in the trash. If they had to remove it couldn’t they’ve treated it with more respect or not left for the public to see?
July 11, 2019, 11:02 am
Ellen from Manhattan says:
May you Rest in Peace, Robert, and may your family find justice.
July 11, 2019, 11:13 am
Soria from Crown Heights says:
The bikes are left to deteriorate in place all over, rusting and dirty. Some respect that is.
July 11, 2019, 11:15 am
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Some of the people here sound like miserable curmudgeons. You seem more bothered by ghost bikes than the motorists killing people. WTF is wrong with you people?
July 11, 2019, 12:07 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
⬆⬆⬆You are trash! You're littering this website⬆⬆⬆ Who is "we"? You have a mouse in your pocket, loser?
July 11, 2019, 12:24 pm
Jim from Brooklyn says:
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge: please keep your comments clean, this blog was very professional and clean by posting your comments it shows you're thru colors... all we ask please stop!!
July 11, 2019, 1:45 pm
Barry from Kenya says:
Yeah, Henry Ford is trash and needs to go.
July 11, 2019, 2:02 pm
Joe from Greenpoint says:
Barry: agree 101.....
July 11, 2019, 2:05 pm
Susan Rosenfeld from Sheepshead BAy says:
The ghost bikes are painted with a white paint that resists rust. There's one on Avenue P and East 12th street for the last year and has no rust. It is a fitting memorial and I hope it will always be there. If it gets one driver to slow down and not drive recklessly it is worth it.
Aug. 14, 2019, 4:18 pm

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