A ghost bike roadside memorial honors a cyclist killed in a motor vehicle accident.


Written by Jenny Goldade


Although roadside memorials are often thought of as a current memorial trend, they’ve actually been around for centuries. They’re used to memorialize the last place the deceased was alive, but more recently they mark fatal car accident locations.


These memorials are a great way to remember someone. However, there also are some rules and safety concerns to consider when it comes to roadside memorials. We’ll go over some of these rules and a few distinct types of roadside memorials.


Car Accident Roadside Memorials

Not only do roadside memorials let families memorialize and grieve their loved one, they bring awareness to driving safely. Families create the memorial to both honor their loved one and warn others about the dangers of driving.


Some typical items you may see at a roadside memorial are:

  • A cross, sign, or another memorial marker
  • Real or fake flowers
  • Wreaths
  • Framed pictures of the deceased
  • Stuffed animals (especially if the car accident victim was a child)
  • Memorial messages such as “In memory of (insert name here)”
  • Warning messages such as “Drive Safely”
  • Other mementos and items of significance to the deceased

Family and friends of the deceased can maintain the memorial by adding fresh flowers and replacing items with weather-related damages. We’ll discuss some rules and safety tips later on in this blog post.


Ghost Bikes

Ghost bikes are roadside memorials for cyclists killed in motor vehicle accidents. The bikes have white paint and signs, flowers, pictures, and other mementos on them. With more than 800 bicyclists killed in motor vehicle accidents during 2015, these memorials raise awareness while honoring their lives.


The first known ghost bike was made in 2003 by Patrick Van Der Tuin in St. Louis, Missouri. He witnessed a cyclist and motor vehicle accident and decided to make a ghost bike memorial. Even though the cyclist wasn’t seriously injured, he wanted to raise awareness about driving safe. He painted the bike white and made a sign that read “Cyclist struck here.” This ghost bike is thought to have started the ghost bike movement.


Rules and Safety Concerns

Depending on where you live, there are different rules for roadside memorials. Some states allow them, while others consider them as safety hazards to other drivers. Make sure you’re aware of your state’s rules before creating a roadside memorial. Also, contact the landowner to make sure you have permission to place the memorial in your desired location.


To keep both drivers and those setting up and maintaining a roadside memorial safe, follow these safety tips:

  • Make sure the memorial doesn’t interfere with traffic flow and a driver’s vision.
  • Make sure it doesn’t interfere with underground utilities or construction work.
  • Don’t put yourself or drivers in danger by crossing the road to get to the memorial.
  • Don’t park in an unsafe location that could cause a traffic accident.

To avoid putting yourself in a dangerous situation, put the memorial in a safe and easy-to-access location. That way, you and your loved ones can easily maintain and visit the memorial without having to cross busy roads. Or, a safer and alternative option if your state doesn’t allow roadside memorials is adopting a highway in your loved one’s name.


Have you made a roadside memorial to honor a loved one? Share your tips with us in the comments.