The silent memorial of the all-white painted bicycle parked at Magnolia and Buena Vista. It’s known as a ghost bike, and serves as a somber memorial for 63 year old Burbank bicyclist, Henry Peter Kuen, who recently succumbed to injuries received December 9th while crossing that same Intersection.
Mr. Kuen was on his bicycle crossing Buena Vista traveling east when a car turning left onto Buena Vista collided with him causing serious injuries. After more than a month in intensive care at Providence St. Joseph hospital, Mr. Kuen died of his injuries on January 12th.
With this most recent Ghost Bike installation, Burbank joins more than 200 other cities around the world that are dotted with these unassuming yet emotionally jarring bicycles. Spray-painted entirely white from the handlebars to the hubs, each one symbolizes a life lost while on a bicycle. The bikes help bring closure to those who lose friends and family on the road, according to members of the cycling community in Los Angeles who prepare and erect these ghost bike memorials.
Danny Gamboa, one of several local activists who creates these memorials in the Los Angeles area, also created Burbank’s Henry Kuen memorial installation. “We’ve placed ghost bikes for cyclists as young as 6-year-olds and as old at 90-year-olds,” Gamboa said. “Today was particularly tough because we had three ghost bikes to install, one in Downey, one in Oxnard, and this one here in Burbank.” Members of Walk Bike Burbank, the local community bike organization were also on hand for Saturday evening’s remembrance.
The mission of Ghost Bikes organization is “to make sure that anyone killed on their bike isn’t forgotten and isn’t dying in vain,” according to a Gamboa.
The ghost bike memorial project was started in St. Louis in 2003 when a white-painted bicycle was left on the spot where a bicyclist was killed with a hand-painted sign reading “Cyclist Struck Here”. The noticeable effect that this had on increased safety awareness for both bicyclists and motorists was immediately noticeable and began the current trend in ghost bike memorials.
Henry Peter Kuen is the 73rd, and hopefully last, bicycling fatality in Southern California, and the 29th in Los Angeles County for 2015. Kuen appears to be the first person to die while riding a bike in Burbank since at least 2011. The Burbank Police Department logged four fatalities in 2015 as a result of traffic collisions.
Police note that the case remains under investigation. Anyone with information is urged to contact BPD Traffic Detective Sam Anderson at (818) 238-3100.