Saturday, December 4, 2010

Memorial to Christopher Benton

Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling (FABB) placed a 'ghost bike' memorial at the corner of Fort Hunt and Belle Haven Roads in memory of Chris Benton. Chris died November 22 from injuries suffered when he collided with a car on November 14. See an earlier FABB post for more information about Chris. FABB is releasing the attached media statement.
Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling

Contact: Bruce Wright
Title: FABB Chairman
Cell: 703-328-9619
Date: December 4, 2010

Ghost bike placed in honor of Christopher Benton

FABB was very saddened to learn that Christopher Benton died on November 22 as the result of a collision with a motorist at Fort Hunt and Belle Haven Roads. The crash occurred on November 14. A ghost bike has now been placed at the site of the crash. A ghost bike is a white bicycle set up as a roadside memorial in a place where a cyclist has been killed. Besides acting as a memorial to Christopher, it is intended as a reminder to passing motorists to share the road.

Christopher was an avid cyclist who discovered bicycle touring in 1993. From 1994 to 1999 he toured throughout the U.S. and Canada. In 2001 he started cycling to work four to five days a week, twenty-six miles round trip. Christopher also used his bicycle for transportation on short trips around his neighborhood.

The type of crash in which Christopher was killed, where a motorist turns left in front of an oncoming cyclist, is a very common cause of bicyclist/motorist crash. Motorists may not be looking for a bicyclist, may underestimate the speed of the oncoming bicyclist, or may ignore that the bicyclist has the right-of-way and assume the cyclist will stop. Cyclists need to be aware that this type of crash is common and always proceed with caution through intersections.

Motorists when turning should yield to bicyclists. They should approach and pass bicyclists at a reasonable speed, allowing at least two feet when passing. Cyclists should wear bright clothing to increase visibility and always use lights when riding at night. They should ride 2-3 feet from the edge of the road in a visible position. If there are parked cars, they should ride 4-5 feet from cars to avoid being hit by a door that could open suddenly. If the lane is too narrow to share (less than 14 feet), cyclists should take the lane, riding in the center or just to the right of center of the lane.

In all states in the U.S. cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists when using the road. Motorists need to be aware that cyclists often travel at speeds in excess of 20 mph, especially when traveling downhill. We must all share the road.

FABB continues its ongoing work to improve safety for all bicyclists in the county through our work on infrastructure design and road user education.


For more information, contact Bruce Wright, chairman [at], 703-328-9619. Visit us on the web at

For more information about Christopher’s bicycle adventures, see his profile on a bicycle touring website:

For more information on ghost bikes see the wikipedia article:

Update: News article at Huntington-Belle Haven Patch: Ghost Bike Placed At Site of Local Cyclist's Death

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Very sad... I'm a bicyclist and understand that "In all states in the U.S. cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists when using the road." In my experience too many bikers expect cars to act responsibly, while they themselves do not fillow the rules of the road, EXCEPT when they are in the biker's favor. This does not help bikers gain respect from motorists.
Your comment has nothing to do with this situation. Christopher was a very experienced cyclist. It appears he was riding legally when he was struck down by a motorist illegally turning in front of him.

I could go on about how every day I see motorists endangering cyclists' lives, but that really does no good. We all need to ride and drive responsibly, looking out for others, not being distracted, stopping at red lights, understanding that our actions have consequences, some of them fatal.

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