Ghost bikes honor cyclists killed while riding
You may have noticed white, deconstructed bikes in the 4 states area, they’re meant to grab your attention and bring awareness to bike safety in the area.
Bikers solemnly gather to ride 3 miles in honor of Rhonda Thompson and create a memorial for her known as a ghost bike.
“She was a sweet heart, she touched a lot of people lives,” says Robert Thompson of his late wife.
The bike for Thompson is not alone; they can be seen all over the country. One sits chained to a pole in downtown Joplin, a reminder of someone who once rode it.
“Anytime a cyclist is killed, a ghost bike, a white painted bike, goes up with their name on it to again, raise awareness, raise people’s attitudes towards cycling that you know someone was killed on a bicycle and we want to stop that,” says Mike Morris.
The ghost bike on 4 th and Joplin Streets is dedicated to Larry Jones who was struck by a car while riding on a 2 lane road. One week later, Mark Morris was riding in memory of Jones when he almost faced the same fate.
“I was run over on highway 43, I was not actually in the road, I was out on the shoulder so I was in a place where you would think you would be safe,” continues Morris.
Accidents involving cyclists are not uncommon, something a Joplin based awareness group Look 4 States hopes to change.
“When you drive by and you see this bike remember that that was somebody’s family member and to be aware that they’re out on the streets and to pay attention,” says Look 4 States spokesperson Rhonda Thompson, unrelated to the deceased.
The number of cycling deaths is rising each year and there are 630 ghost bikes around the country to show it. With more people looking to get outside and active, some changes need to be made to ensure safety
“That shift in lifestyle, we really want to make sure that downtown Joplin and Joplin as a whole is prepared to be accommodating for that and inviting. By making sure that we have bicycle safety measures in place, it really helps to be a more bike friendly city,” says Callie Hudson of the Downtown Joplin Alliance.
Advocates are pushing for more and consistent bike lanes as well as signs to make drivers aware that cyclists can use all lanes. Look 4 States is also working on a “3 foot law” asking motorists to move over 3 feet when passing a cyclist.
Thompson’s family asks that drivers be more aware.
“We’re proud to have her name represented here,” continues her husband.