Since 2005, a new and very poignant form of emblematic expression has become popular in NYC: “ghost bikes.”  More than 65 funereal, white-painted bikes have appeared throughout the city in memory to children killed in traffic-related biking accidents, according to the Street Memorial Project. While each of the bikes is documented by the SMP, in memoriam to a specific child who died in a specific accident, there is one mysterious exception at 100 Street on West End Avenue.

It all started last week when a tiny “ghost bike,” one training wheel gone, the other bent, was chained to a streetlamp across from the Synagogue Ansche Chesed. Written on the seat of the bike was “R.I.P Jonah Shapiro, Age 9.” Other written details reveal that the boy was the victim of a hit-and-run that occurred June 3.

However, according to residents and to police records, no such accident had ever occurred at that location; neither on June 3 nor at any other time. The SMP has no knowledge of the bike’s existence nor is anyone familiar with a nine-year-old boy named Jonah Shapiro in that neighborhood. Naturally, over the past week, the bike has become quite controversial; a mystery that has made a ghost bike all the more ghostly.

West Side Spirit