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Not a Good Place for a Tribute

roadside memorials, ghost bike, roadside shrineThe ad-hoc roadside shrine is a fairly new thing. It’s a public message erected without public sanction as a way for the bereaved to announce their loss to the traveling public. They are a visual message, but may not convey the sentiment intended. What do people think when they pass by? 

The people who create these roadside memorials are experiencing real grief and sadness, but there are better ways to commemorate a life. Every roadside death is significant, but if the phenomenon of these shrines grows, it can become a significant safety issue as well as an aesthetic detraction for the spot. Public agencies will eventually remove the shrines, usually after a few months. They need to have a policy in place for how to deal with unsolicited signs and decoration on the public rights of way.

Just as it is inappropriate to build a shine in a hospital room where someone passes away, it is wrong for the roadside. A public roadside is not an honorable enough place. It has litter and utility lines. Rather than locate temporary memorials where your loved one died, tell the world how they lived. Create a one-time scholarship, plant a tree, or write a story for the local newspaper. 

Roadside Memorials