When I visited Preston in Chicago five years ago, he was highly involved in the city's bike scene and told me all about it. Apparently, unsafe drivers had killed a number of cyclists in recent months, so he said bike activists would put a painted white bike at the scene of the accident as a rogue memorial of sorts.
Unsure of what he meant, I decided to look out the window as we rode in the car to see if I could witness any of these "ghost bikes" for myself. It was only seconds later that I spotted the first one. Not long after, I spotted a second, a third, a fourth, and a fifth…
"Oh my god, you're not kidding!" I said. "I've seen so many white bikes already!"
I prepared to plead with him to stop riding his bike in the city since the roads appeared to be a literal slaughterhouse given the number of white bikes I was seeing, but then things were finally cleared up for me.
"Ghost bikes", it turns out, are literal bikes painted white and locked to street signs to commemorate the cyclist. I didn't actually see any of those. Instead, I was looking at bikes painted on the road in white…
… in other words, symbols for the bike lane. I honestly thought for a bit that cyclists were getting plowed down by cars every 100 yards or so.
Guys, I'm kinda the smartest person I know.