a couple of months ago, a student cycling right in the heart of Oxford, outside the Bodleian Library, was killed in a collision with a garbage truck. A couple of days later a bicycle spraypainted entirely in white turned up by the roadside, chained to a post. While I immediately made the connection with the accident, I didn't quite figure out who put it there and why -- whether it was some kind of religious tradition to paint an object relating to the death and use it as a memorial.
Now I've come across a mention of the group visual resistance which has been putting up such ghost bikes in New York for a couple of years:
"Beginning in June 2005, members of Visual Resistance have been creating small and somber memorials for New York City bicyclists killed by automobiles. Each time a biker is killed, a bicycle painted all white is locked to a street sign and a small stenciled plaque is bolted in place above it.
The installations are meant as reminders of the tragedy that took place on an otherwise anonymous street corner, and as quiet statements in support of bikers’ right to safe travel. It was inspired by Ghost Bike Pittsburgh, which was in turn inspired by a similar effort in St. Louis. In recent months, Ghost Bikes have appeared in cities across the country, as well as in the UK."
The Oxford ghost bike doesn't have a plaque, though. At least I haven't found any.