Courtesy Photo Karen Kirsch died tragically after a Sept. 13 accident while she was bicycling. On Nov. 2, her siblings Meg, Maureen and Stephen placed a ghost bike in her honor near the spot on Route 1 in Scarborough where the accident occurred.

SCARBOROUGH — On Nov. 2, the family of Kathleen (“Kate”) Kirsch placed a ghost bike in her honor near the site of the accident that ultimately led to the loss of her life.

Scarborough police said Kirsch was riding a bicycle on Route 1 near On the Vine Marketplace around 3 p.m. Sept. 13 when she was hit by a car. She died Sept. 14 at Maine Medical Center in Portland.

Ghost bikes are public memorials parked on public ways near fatal crash sites to honor bicyclists who have lost their lives in traffic crashes. They are also educational tools, reminding drivers and other members of the public that people riding bikes have the right to safe travel.

Kirsch’s ghost bike, which is parked on the public esplanade outside of On the Vine Marketplace at 591 Route 1 in Scarborough, is intended to allow Kirsch’s spirit to remain in the community where she lived and loved to ride her bicycle for health, transportation and fun. It also serves as a solemn visual reminder of the loss of Kirsch’s life in a  traffic crash.

Kate Kirsch’s brother, Dr. Stephen Kirsch, also a resident of Scarborough, said that he hopes that the bicycle tribute to his sister will prompt drivers to look for people walking and biking on public ways. Dr. Kirsch, who is also a cyclist, said he is aware how vulnerable individuals are when they take to the streets on foot or on a bicycle, especially when sharing the road with pick-up trucks in excess of seven-thousand pounds.

Kathleen “Kate” Kirsch Photo courtesy of the Kirsch family

He said he hopes that the placement of a ghost bike near the private-to-public intersection will remind all drivers approaching stop signs and stop lines to stop and look in all directions, and to wait until it is safe to proceed, before entering a public way.

He and others in his family would like to see Kate’s ghost bike increasing awareness and generating public dialogue about the critical need across the state for complete streets, safer spaces for vulnerable road users, and strategies for building healthier communities.

The Kirsch family invites members of Kate’s various communities and the public to visit the bicycle memorial to reflect on Kate’s life and how it was lost, as well as on the 40,000 plus lives lost every year in the United States due to preventable traffic crashes.

Her siblings said they also wish for people visiting their sister’s ghost bike to remember Kate’s creative energy, her playful side, her love of children and animals, and her contributions to her theater, school, religious, and other communities. Anyone who ever saw Kate out riding, or saw her bright purple bike before or after the crash, will likely remember that it had a giant, white bell on it sprinkled with colorful shooting stars. As a tribute to Kate’s eternal youth, her ghost bike boasts a pink horn splashed with a daisy, which visitors may choose to honk in her honor.

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