Skip to Content

Seen: Ghost Bike, Cambridge, Massachusetts

It’s easy to miss and, if you do happen to notice it, you kind of have to think for a second. Why would anyone lock a bike to a signpost in the middle of a six-lane arterial? But look more closely: The old Schwinn at the intersection of Edwin Land Boulevard and Monsignor O’Brien Highway in Cambridge is painted a spectral white — even the tires, the cables, the seat. A garland of artificial flowers is draped over the handlebars, and a faded Christmas wreath rings the seat post. Blocky black letters across the top tube spell out “Marty Sinacore 1953–2012.” Down the seat tube it reads, “Husband, Father, Artist.”

The first Ghost Bike appeared in St. Louis, Missouri, in 2003, bearing the message “Cyclist struck here.” It was the spontaneous act of a man who had witnessed a fatal bike crash. In the decade since, more than 500 Ghost Bikes have materialized in at least 185 locations around the world. It’s a memorial to someone’s friend, colleague, or loved one. It is a poignant, haunting reminder of how vulnerable cyclists are on city streets that, for far too long, have been designed almost exclusively for motor vehicles. Most of all, it is a call to action to urban design professionals to do better.

Martin Sinacore, 59, was a scientist, researcher, and amateur musician who lived in Andover and worked in Cambridge. He leaves a wife and two children.