City of San Diego to remove Chuck Gilbreth Ghost Bike

Caltrans isn’t the only governmental bureaucracy that dislikes ghost bikes. I just learned that the ghost bike placed by the SDSU bike advocacy group, The Bike Stand, to honor Chuck Gilbreth’s life will soon be removed by the City of San Diego. This isn’t the first time that the City has removed a ghost bike.

GIlbreth Ghost Bike Take Down Notice. Photo: Sara Kazemi
Gilbreth Ghost Bike. Photo: Sara Kazemi
Grieving Atip Ouypron. Photo:

Almost four years ago, Atip Ouypron was killed when crossing the dangerously wide and bicycle-unfriendly University Avenue and Park Boulevard intersection. Ouypron’s death resulted in an outpouring of grief. A ghost bike was placed to honor Ouypron’s life and to serve as a reminder of a life taken far too early. The City wasted no time or funds in removing the ghost bike and yet four years later has done very little to improve the intersection that cost Ouypron his life. Neither of the four traffic lights at Park Boulevard and University detect bicycle riders. This lack of detection gives riders three choices: either running the red light to risk a ticket or death, transforming into pedestrian to hit the walk button to trigger the green light or, waiting for a vehicle to come up and trigger the traffic light.

Park Boulevard has recently been resurfaced and striped with parking spaces but has no accommodations for bicyclists at University Avenue. The steep westbound section of University Avenue leading to Park Boulevard has no bike lane which creates an unpleasant riding environment with fast moving vehicles passing slow moving riders who are heading uphill.

It wouldn’t be as upsetting to have ghost bikes removed if these agencies worked to improve the area that resulted in the death in the first place. In Venuto’s case – a more sturdy barrier could have been installed to replace the chainlink fence separating SR-56 from the bike path. Had that improvement been made in the year since Venuto’s death, the notice to remove Venuto’s ghost bike wouldn’t sting as much.

University Avenue leading up to Park Boulevard could look like this. Photo from

In the four years since Ouypron died, the city could have at the very least lowered the sensitivity on the traffic lights so that lone riders could be assured that they could get a green light before continuing on their journey. Instead both Caltrans and the City have chosen to waste public funds by removing something that should serve as a reminder that our city is still extremely unfriendly to riders. Instead of focusing resources on removing memorials that don’t harm anyone, perhaps both the City and Caltrans can work on addressing the issue that these memorials are reminding us all of and work on making the city safer for all its residents and users of our transportation network.