Living in the heart of the 2012 Olympic neighbourhood it was very interesting seeing all the roadside pedestrian protection barriers being removed at all the road crossings from the City of London up to Stratford. I had assumed this was for safety reasons i.e. a greater expected number of people using the pavements meaning any crush hazards needed to be minimised, even if this increased the risk of more serious injuries occurring to pedestrians if any cars then mounted the sidewalk at these locations? I admit I have always been rather frustrated by these ‘fences’, which force you to walk as much as 20 metres out of your way to cross a road [surely a major part of their intended function above the vehicle impact protection purpose] so now they are absent there is actually a feeling of liberation, but mixed with slight unease.
However, today I am thinking there was also another PR reason for their removal? For the last four months the lack of convenient lock up points has had the effect of ‘disappearing’ most if not all of the Ghost Bikes normally resident at dangerous junctions along these routes. Naturally one would assume that during the worldwide media coverage of the Olympic Games the last thing politicians wanted was attention paid to bicyclist fatalities on the streets of the Capital. So I welcome back [though wish they didn’t need to return] what has over the last ten years become a global phenomena; roadside memorials to injured and killed bicyclists.
If Ghost Bikes are the absence of the rider then this fabulous art project by Chinese artist Zhao Huasenn entitled Floating, [what at first seems mundane photographs of people in China riding their bikes down the street but on closer inspection reveals that the bike has been digitally removed from each image so the riders appear to be floating] must be the flip-side.