While Brookline Police continue to investigate the cause of a fatal bicycle accident that killed a 22-year-old Emmanuel College graduate last month, a “ghost bike” has mysteriously been placed at the scene of crash.
The all-white bicycle, adorned with flowers and a memorial placard for Holbrook, NY, native Tracy Milillo is latched to a street sign near 29 Longwood Avenue—where Milillo crashed her bicycle on Sept. 9.
Brookline Police Captain Michael Gropman said this week that police are not filing charges against a Brookline motorist who had apparently thought he hit Milillo on the night of the crash.
Forensic tests have shown that the man’s vehicle did not collide with Milillo’s bicycle, Gropman said.
“We know it did not,” Gropman said. “We’re not sure why the bike fell.”
Milillo was found unconscious at the scene of the crash about 7 p.m. that night along with the motorist, who had stopped, Gropman said. Milillo was taken to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where she died from her injuries within 48 hours.
She suffered blunt trauma to her head, and police are awaiting the results of a toxicology exam on Milillo to help determine the cause of the crash. Gropman said Milillo was wearing a heavy backpack and he speculated that she may have lost her balance, or she may have had a mechanical problem.
He said the day Milillo was struck was supposed to be her last in Boston. Her parents were coming up to take her back to her home in Holbrook, NY.
David Watson, executive director of the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, said the bicycle placed at the scene of the crash on Longwood Avenue is known as a “ghost bike” and similar memorials have been placed at the sites of fatal bicycle accidents around the country.
Traditionally, Watson said ghost bikes “mysteriously appear” at crash scenes, and the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition had nothing to do with putting up the bike for Milillo. But Watson said the memorials are effective tools to bringing attention to fatal bicycle accidents.
“They definitely get everyone’s attention,” Watson said.
Gropman said Brookline Police have seen flowers at fatal crashes and homicides before, but this is the first time he’s seen a ghost bike.
Milillo’s death comes as Brookline is considering multiple changes for bicyclists in the town.
In September, Brookline’s Transportation Board approved a network of bicycle lanes and facilities that are designed to help bicyclists maneuver from Longwood Avenue to the BU Bridge. The route follows portions of Chapel, Carlton, Ivy, Essex and Montford streets , and Brookline Transportation Administrator Todd Kirrane said it was designed to help make Brookline more bicycle friendly.
Brookline’s Town Meeting will also be considering an article in November that would require all bicycles to be registered with the town. Kirrane said similar proposals have been presented to Town Meeting before, in an effort help recover stolen bicycles and to hold bicyclists more accountable on the roads.
Kirrane said the idea has been referred to Brookline’s Transportation Board before, and it was determined that the program would be too costly.
Watson said the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition is opposed to rules requiring bicycle registration.
“We see it as an obstacle to get more people to ride bikes,” Watson said.