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Locals outraged at removal notice attached to tribute bicycle

The family and friends of a singer who was killed riding her bike in Hackney have been ordered to remove a 'ghost bike' that pays tribute to her life.

Hackney Council has attached a removal notice to the white-painted bike, which is decorated with flowers and photographs. A spokesperson said that members of the public had complained about it.

The notice read that the owners of the bicycle had seven days to unlock it from the railings near the spot where 28-year-old Shivon Watson was killed, on a roundabout as she cycled to work.

Ghost bikes serve as both a memorial to the dead rider, but also as a visual reminder to drivers of what the consequences of hitting a cyclist can be.

Although the seven day period has now expired, the council has not yet removed the ghost bike and has agreed to discuss the matter with the family before taking any further action.

There has been no improvement work at the roundabout since Shivon's death in March 2010. She was killed when a left-turning lorry trapped her against the railings.

Annette Darch, the mother of Shivon (also known by her stage name Shiv Lizzy) told the Evening Standard:  “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.”

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.”

Laura Woods, spokeswoman for road safety charity Brake, said: “Roadside memorials, such as a ghost bikes, provide a vital reminder for other drivers and for communities in which there have been deaths on the road and can be a comfort to families who have suffered a sudden and violent bereavement through a road crash.”

A Hackney council spokesman said: “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.”

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.