Hong Kong police have removed a “ghost bike” that was tied to a railing in Prince Edward to honour cyclists killed on the city’s roads.
The bike was placed on the side of Lai Chi Kok Road, at the site a rider died, by James Ockenden on Saturday morning, as a part of his “ghost bike” project to commemorate the eight cyclists who lost their lives on Hong Kong’s roads last year.
Ockenden told HKFP that he had left eight all-white bikes at locations across Hong Kong where cyclists had died. By Friday morning, at least two had already been taken away – including the one at Prince Edward – he said.
In response to an enquiry from HKFP, the police said officers had found the bicycle in Prince Edward during a patrol on Wednesday morning and had removed the vehicle “to ensure the safety to road users.”
However, Ockenden said he was told by a police officer that the bike was taken away due to a complaint and that he was not given any further explanation.
Ockenden said he was “not surprised,” but that he was “angry at how quickly it is removed and at the excuse.”
The removal of the bikes did not matter to much to the spirit of the campaign, Ockenden said, as it was intended as “a simple memorial” to raise awareness.
Nonetheless, he said the project had got a lot of social media exposure and coverage already.
‘Ride of Silence’
Ockenden also told HKFP that four cyclists held a Ride of Silence event on Wednesday – an annual international bicycle ride to honour those killed or injured while cycling on public roads.
Other riders were encouraged to ride on their own and share their pictures online, so as not to breach the four-person limit on public gatherings.
During last year’s event, 15 participants were ticketed over Covid-19 public gathering restrictions.
During this year’s ride, Ockenden said on Twitter that the participants were followed by multiple police motorbikes and a police van down Nathan Road. Ockenden said that dozens of officers were present when the four arrived at the Star Ferry Pier in Tsim Sha Tsui, which he described as “unnecessary.”
Martin Turner, the chairperson of the Hong Kong Cycling Alliance (HKCA) – which has hosted the Ride of Silence for 17 years – told HKFP that he was “shocked” by the heavy police presence on Wednesday night.
“They were not trying to help… they were not willing to interact,” Turner said. “It felt like an intimidation,” adding that the police deployment felt unnecessary as there were no road safety or Covid-19 concerns.
Turner said he was “very disappointed” with the police presence as the HKCA had been fully cooperative with the police and remained politically neutral. “We have kept our side of the bargain for 17 years,” he said.
The police told HKFP that they noted that ” a group of people might be cycling in Tsim Sha Tsui, Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok areas” on Wednesday evening and they deployed officers to “maintain a smooth traffic flow and ensure the road safety.”
Officers reminded people to comply with “relevant laws and regulations” but no fines were issued.
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