Fury as council removes ‘ghost bike’ tribute

Andrew Spink, brother of Tony Spink who was killed in 2007 by a lorry, on Ings Rd/Charlesworth Way junction. Council removed the ghost bike that was chained to the fence in memory of his brother, but also as an aid to make other road users aware of cyclists.'w4188a103
Andrew Spink, brother of Tony Spink who was killed in 2007 by a lorry, on Ings Rd/Charlesworth Way junction. Council removed the ghost bike that was chained to the fence in memory of his brother, but also as an aid to make other road users aware of cyclists.'w4188a103

A GRIEVING brother has spoken of his anger after a roadside tribute he placed for his sibling was confiscated by Wakefield Council.

Andrew Spink placed a ‘ghost bike’ at a traffic island between Ings Road and Charlesworth Way to mark the birthday of his brother Tony who was killed after he was knocked from his own bike by a truck in July 2007.

The white-painted bike, containing a memorial plaque, was left on Sunday to remind drivers to take extra care of cyclists.

But council officers confiscated it the following morning, later claiming it was a distraction for drivers.

Mr Spink, of Featherstone, said he felt “insulted” by the decision to remove the bike without his knowledge.

He said: “It is completely outrageous that they can use this argument. The bike was directly in the line of sight of traffic and was no more distracting than a bunch of flowers or a billboard.

“This is not about public grieving. Tony believed passionately that cyclists should be able to use roads safely, so it would have been important to him that this message gets out.

“The council could have asked me to remove it and I would have. I just think it’s incredibly insensitive to take it down within 24 hours of it going up.”

Andrew, 43, said he had written to the council in November asking for permission to place the ghost bike for two weeks each year.

He said: “I wanted to engage with the council but I was just told the bike was ‘presumed’ forbidden, so their policy on it is obviously not clear.

“I can’t believe they removed it so swiftly when there are other problems on our roads that they just don’t respond to.”

Ian Thompson, Wakefield Council’s service director for planning, transportation and highways, said: “We’re sorry for any personal distress. We will give this further consideration. While we recognise that people want to remember loved ones, we have to balance this with the safety of all road users. Again, we apologise to Mr Spink and we will be looking into whether ghost bikes can be placed safely.”

The first ghost bikes were created in Missouri, USA, but now appear all over the world and have been approved for use in London by Boris Johnson. They act as a memorial and a warning for drivers.