A few weeks ago, a 7 day removal order from Hackney Council, appeared on a memorial ghost bike attached to railings at the roundabout, where Lauriston Road meets Victoria Park Road. The memorial was created 3 years ago by family and friends of Shivon Watson, a 28 year old woman who lost her life while cycling to work on March 10, 2010.
Like other ghost bike memorials all over the UK, the cycling community, friends and family of victims, view them not only as a way to preserve the memory of loved ones but a solemn reminder to drivers and the public at large, on road safety and the vulnerability of cyclists.
An aspiring musician already making waves, Shivon was crushed between the railings and a tipper truck as she and the truck navigated a left turn, at the roundabout. She had moved from Bristol to Bow just 5 months before her tragic death and worked for a youth charity – Fairbridge, in Hackney, where she had been an administrator.
According to Her mother Annette Darsh, only one person has complained. Speaking to the Evening Standard recently, she said: “We heard rumours that it might be taken away when we went up for the anniversary but everyone around there is happy for it to stay. Just one person complained apparently. They should not do it. And it would be nice to be consulted.”
Cyclist Hannah Caller who lives nearby, was concerned enough to contact the council who told her the council had a statutory requirement to remove abandoned bikes or things attached to street furniture. The official explained that while they recognise it is a memorial, it would have to go. Pressed further, the council official told Ms Caller ‘someone’ had made a complaint on ‘aesthetic grounds’ which left them no other option but to serve the 7 day notice.
Hackney Council however, have since issued a statement saying: “In practice we only seek to remove temporary memorials where we have received complaints, as in this case, or where memorials are not maintained or pose a risk to safety. Although the seven-day notice period has expired, we will not remove the memorial until we have discussed this with the family.”
Chris Peck of CTC, the national cycling charity, said: “It must be terrible for family and friends who want to preserve the memory of her and have that wiped out and taken away.
“The bikes serve to motivate people to campaign for better road safety and remind them of lives lost on the road. There should be a way of working with the family to have the ghost bike retained.”