A ghost bike dedicated to the memory of Natasha Caicedo has found a new home on Marin Boulevard at the corner of Grand Street.
Caicedo, a co-owner of the popular Kraverie restaurant on Mercer Street, was hit and killed while riding her bike on Marin Boulevard the evening of June 20 by an alleged hit and run driver. Caicedo is among several pedestrians and cyclists who have been hit by vehicles this year, leading to calls from residents for increased safety protections.
The Caicedo tribute is one of more than 500 similar ghost bikes that have been created in cities throughout the world to simultaneously honor cyclists who have been hit and killed by drivers and to raise awareness among the public about road safety.
The bike in honor of Caicedo, painted white to evoke those who have passed, was originally parked elsewhere on Marin, but was removed by Saint Peter’s Preparatory School, which owns the land on which the bike was parked.
The Caicedo tribute is one of more than 500 similar ghost bikes that have been created in cities throughout the world.
“Every day cyclists wanted to remember Natasha and bring a sense of realness to her tragedy,” said downtown activist Dan Levin, a board member of Bike JC, a local organization that formed in 2009 and has been advocating for local bike routes. “The ghost bike is a somber visual reminder for all bicyclists to be aware and use caution.”
The ghost bike in Caicedo’s memory, which was created by two residents who wish to remain anonymous, is a first for Jersey City.
City lags behind neighbors
Jersey City lags behind New York and the neighboring city of Hoboken when it comes to cycling safety. Last year, the city created its first marked bike lanes on Grove Street, and various redevelopment plans throughout the city call for both designated bike lanes and marked sharrows. But these plans have been slow to materialize even as the number of cyclists seems to increase each year.
When Jersey City initially drafted its master plan in 2005, bike routes were part of the plan. However, under the master plan that was officially adopted the city vowed only to create bike lanes “where feasible,” language that has left this green transit option on the back burner ever since.
New York City, in contrast, has a large network of bike lanes that have been significantly expanded under current Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and New York and Hoboken have each launched “bike share” programs to encourage residents to rely on bikes rather than cars for simple errands and local transportation.
Increasing road safety for cyclists and pedestrians and cracking down on speeding among drivers were among the top safety/quality of life concerns raised by residents who attended four town hall meetings hosted by Mayor Steven Fulop in May.
Arrest made in June
A woman, 24-year-old Neteria Augcomfar, has been arrested for the alleged hit and run of Caicedo.
According to a June press release from the Jersey City Police Department Major Case Squad, Augcomfar was the driver of a 2008 silver Volkswagen Jetta that was allegedly seen leaving the scene after Caicedo was struck.
Augcomfar, who allegedly turned herself in to police on June 24, allegedly told police that at the time of the accident she was unaware that she may have hit someone.
Augcomfar has been charged with reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident, and leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in death.
The unidentified owner of the car has not been charged in the case.
E-mail E. Assata Wright at email@example.com.