Widow hopes 'ghost bike' helps safety

Published Wednesday, 15 January 2014
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The widow of a cyclist who died on the Ormeau Road in Belfast has told UTV she hopes the 'ghost bike' left at the spot where the crash happened can serve as a reminder to other road users of the importance of staying safe.

Widow hopes 'ghost bike' helps safety
Ms Caulfield hopes the bike will help people think about road safety. (© UTV)

A bicycle painted completely white was locked to the railings of the bridge after Michael Caulfield was killed in a collision with a lorry on 15 April 2011.

For mother of four Bernadette Caulfield the grief is still very raw.

"It was like slow motion," she explained. "It was like 'this isn't happening to me'. It's hard to live with, people think you just get over it after a year and move on but that's not it.

"It's hard to cope with."

More and more people are choosing to travel by bicycle but with the roads becoming busier and busier, a simple journey can carry many risks.

Gordon Clarke works with the government to try and make it safer for cyclists.

He said: "We know that there are major gaps in the infrastructure and there are reasons why a lot of the population don't cycle, particularly young children and women in particular.

"They find safety as their number one concern so, yes there are dangers, but those are being addressed and hopefully as they improve then there will be more people cycling."

The hazards facing all road users in Northern Ireland are well documented. Six deaths in the first two weeks of 2014 prompted police to warn of a road safety emergency.

Bernadette said she hopes the ghost bike on the Ormeau Road can serve as a reminder of her husband and a warning to other road users.

"I want it to stay there," she said.

"I just think that if one person, just one person passes it and thinks to check, it could make a difference to someone's life and then it's worth it."

© UTV News
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5 Comments
Garret O'Fachtna in Belfast wrote (216 days ago):
I ride in and out of Belfast everyday and I use my bike to get around the city too. I have seen cyclists with poor lights, I have seen cyclists go through red lights and I have seen cyclists behave recklessly in other ways too. There is no excuse for any of that and I wish that the PSNI would take a firm line on enforcing the rules of the road for cyclists too. However, I have also been hit by a car turning across traffic, I have run into a kerb many times by drivers squeezing past me when there isn't any room to do so, I have been given abuse by motorists because I'm 'in their way' and I have seen many, many cases of drivers jumping red lights, driving recklessly and aggressively, talking on their phones and, on one occasion, reading a newspaper while driving through town. In addition, the 'safe' bike lanes that sporadically pop-up on the roads are, more often than not, being used as additional on-street parking by motorists. My point is this; we all need to share the roads. Cycling is healthy, environmentally sound, good for the economy, good for tourism and (mostly) safe. A little give and take, some common sense and consideration for each other and we can prevent any more tragedies like that of Michael Caufield.
Michael in Coleraine wrote (217 days ago):
Cyclists are very vulnerable on our roads yet on many occasion going to and from my work on these dark mornings and evenings I constantly see a lot of these cyclists riding with either no or very poor lights on their bikes. Only last week I had to have a word with a female cyclist who pulled up alongside my car sitting in traffic on my way home from work. She was wearing dark coloured clothing and didnt have a light on her bike. When I informed her that she was very hard to see I was given a torrent of abuse and told to mind my own business.
Caolan in Belfast wrote (217 days ago):
As a driver I personally believe that all road users, whether it be drivers, cyclists, pedestrians or mobility scooter drivers should have compulsary road training at a young age. All too often I see cyclists go from road to curb or not use lights in the dark, or pedestrians just walking out onto the road at night, or, my personal hatred, drivers on their phones. I believe that with compulsary education about public safety we can bring the cost of lives down dramatically and decrease non-fatal accidents too. I believe that since becoming a driver I have also became a much better pedestrian than before.
Mark in E/Belfast wrote (217 days ago):
I am sympathetic to those who have lost loved ones, especially if they have not been at fault. A lot of cyclists put themselves and others into dangerous positions ... They really need to do some sort of basic road test to make sure they understand the rules of the road ... Anyone can buy a bicycle and take to the road without any knowledge what so ever of the highway code, which is complete madness... I have been nearly knocked down several times by cyclists running red lights/pedestrian crossings or mounting footpaths.. I myself used to cycle and I obeyed traffic laws .. Have said before, I am not anti-cyclist, i am anti-stupidity. I know what it's like "not to be seen" ... Have been knocked off my motorcycle twice by drivers that "didn't see me" and they were 100% at fault .... EVERYONE needs to take responsibility for their actions.
Concern in Belfast wrote (217 days ago):
Really sad to hear about the cyclist that died and it is a great idea by his family to leave a reminder to other road users. I have to say that when I am driving a car i often despair at the way cyclists are weaving and out of the traffic. I also notice many cyclists going through red lights or using the pavement to go on instead of waiting at traffic lights. While motorists need to respect cyclists i also think more cyclists need to obey rules for all road users.
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