A ‘riderless bike’ memorial has been erected in Port Alberni at the corner of 10th Avenue and Dunbar Street, where cyclist Daniel Butt was killed last month. SUSAN QUINN/Black Press

A ‘riderless bike’ memorial has been erected in Port Alberni at the corner of 10th Avenue and Dunbar Street, where cyclist Daniel Butt was killed last month. SUSAN QUINN/Black Press

‘Ghost bikes’ installed to remember teen cyclists who died in Port Alberni

Memorials meant also as a reminder about road safety

Michelle Butt and her family were still in their pyjamas Friday morning when a friend sent them a text to tell them a white bicycle had appeared at her son Daniel’s memorial sometime overnight.

Daniel died while cycling at the corner of 10th Avenue and Dunbar Street in early November, and a makeshift memorial from some of his friends is visible beneath a light pole on the corner. The bicycle has been chained to the pole.

The family shared a private moment as they gazed at the bicycle and read the attached explanation of what it symbolizes.

“It’s beautiful,” Michelle said Friday afternoon.

“For some people it’s a constant reminder about a tragedy that happened. In some sense it’s also a reminder of our precious boy and his passion.”

The bicycle is one of two that were put up on 10th Avenue late Thursday night, Dec. 13. The second one is at the corner of 10th and Redford Street, where Nikita Hedingham died while on her bike a year ago.

The bikes are part of a program called ‘ghost bikes.’ They are painted white and placed at the site where a person riding a bicycle has died. The two in Port Alberni were donated, painted and put up by members of Cycle Alberni.

“The installations are meant as reminders of the tragedy that took place, and as quiet statements in support of the right of all people to safe travel,” said John Mayba of Cycle Alberni. “We felt it was something we needed to do to recognize the tragic situations, and do our part to memorialize them.

“Riderless bikes do not lay blame or place fault,” he emphasized. “For those who create and install the memorials, the death of a fellow cyclist hits home. We all travel the same streets and face the same risks, and realize it could just as easily be any one of us.

“Drivers are affected just as much as everybody else by this.”

The first riderless bikes appeared in St. Louis in 2003, and have spread to 210 locations throughout the world. There are more than 630 white bicycles erected in places where cyclists have died. Cycle Alberni decided to refer to its bicycle memorials as ‘riderless’ instead of ‘ghost.’

“We feel it’s a gentler reference,” Mayba said. “It is a memorial to these kids and something that tries to make people aware of the fact that being on roads, whether day or night is a pretty dangerous thing; and for us to be more cautious.”

Daniel and Nikita, both teenagers, used their bicycles for transportation. Daniel had a passion for cycling and rode his bike for pleasure as well.

“[Daniel] was probably two when he got on his first bike with training wheels,” Michelle Butt said. He did a lot of trail riding as well as using his bicycle to get around. His passion was such that he owned three different bike helmets meant for different purposes, they were fitted to his head and he was diligent about wearing his helmet every time he rode.

“He loved the trails. He used to ride Maquinna Trails. He rode Fir Baby a lot. He would ride the Lookout. He would come home from school and would jump on his bike and ride down to Harbour Quay,” she said.

“That was something he did every day. He just loved to hang out, loved the atmosphere down there. He loved to ride.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Beban Park social centre in Nanaimo will serve as a mass community clinic for immunizations. (News Bulletin photo)
Editorial: Every vaccine dose helps the cause for all of us

Enthusiasm indicates a lot of people want to be immunized, a lot of people will get immunized

Anyone with information is asked to call Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345 or contact Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-8477 or submitting a tip online at www.nanaimocrimestoppers.com.
21-year-old motorbike rider dies after crash with ATV on Nanaimo back road

Incident happened Sunday afternoon near Boomerang Lake

News Bulletin file photo
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Bike lanes inexpensive compared with roads

It is a myth that car drivers are subsidizing cyclists or pedestrians, says letter writer

March 8 is International Women’s Day. (Stock photo)
Editorial: International Women’s Day can inspire us to recommit to equality

Let’s call out sexism, amplify feminism and keep working toward equality

Police in Nanaimo are turning to the public for help identifying two men suspected of a break-and-enter attempt at a Nicol Street apartment building. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo RCMP looking for two men suspected of a break-and-enter attempt

Security camera snapped images in Nicol Street apartment building parking lot

An Island Health nurse prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy Island Health)
Island Health opening 19 clinics to immunize Vancouver Island residents

Health authority anticipates more than 40,000 people will be immunized over the next month

Montreal Canadiens right wing Paul Byron (41) fights for control of the puck with Vancouver Canucks defenceman Quinn Hughes (43) during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Monday, March 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Captain Clutch: Horvat nets shootout winner as Canucks edge Habs 2-1

Vancouver, Montreal tangle again on Wednesday

A special committee has been appointed to look at reforming B.C.’s police act and is inviting the public to make submissions until April 30, 2021. (Black Press media file)
Have thoughts on B.C.’s review of the provincial Police Act?

Submissions will be accepted until April 30

A sports car crashed into a lamp standard and rolled down the hill behind Country Club Centre mall on Sunday night. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Sports car crashes into lamp post, rolls down hill behind Nanaimo mall

Driver uninjured in incident Sunday night on Norwell Drive

Cottonwoods Care Home in Kelowna. (Google Maps)
New COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna care home includes fully vaccinated seniors: Henry

Two staff and 10 residents tested positive at Cottonwoods Care Centre

Excerpts from a conversation between Bria Fisher and the fake truLOCAL job. Fisher had signed a job agreement and was prepared to start work for what she thought was truLOCAL before she learned it was a scam. (Contributed)
B.C. woman warning others after losing $3,000 in job scam

Bria Fisher was hired by what she thought was a Canadian company, only to be out thousands

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix provide a regular update on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, March 2, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 cases: 545 Saturday, 532 Sunday, 385 Monday

Focus on Prince Rupert, Lower Mainland large workplaces

Rising accident rates and payout costs have contributed to billion-dollar deficits at ICBC. (Comox Valley Record)
B.C. appealing decision keeping ICBC injury cases in court

David Eby vows to ‘clip wings’ of personal injury lawyers

Most Read