LEE COUNTY, Fla. - You may have noticed that a well-known memorial on the Sanibel Causeway is missing. Two-and-a-half years ago, Tracey Kleinpell was riding her bicycle there when she was hit by a driver and killed. Since then, a white "ghost bike" decorated with flowers has been chained to a sign in her memory. But, because of recent complaints, Lee County removed it.
"I don't think there is a time that we get on a cycle, that we don't think about Tracey, especially with the ghost bike on Sanibel," Fitness on the Move owner Troy DeMond said.
"It's to remind drivers just as anyone else that they've got a high level of responsibility, as well as the cyclists do," Dan Moser of Bike Walk Lee said.
The "ghost bike" has been a fixture on the causeway since Tracey's death in May 2011. But recently, when it vanished, people noticed. We asked the Lee County Department of Transportation. The Director tells us they frequently have to remove roadside memorials because they're a safety hazard, a hindrance to maintenance or, in this case, a subject of citizen complaints.
"For our family, it's sad," Kleinpell's sister Tina Andrews said. "It's just one more thing being taken away from us. That was a place people kept beautiful for her. It was just a shame."
We found the Florida Department of Transportation does offer a program for memorial markers to be placed within a state road right of way. "I'll tell you, she had some serious friends," Moser said.
For now, Moser with is taking good care of Tracey's memorial bike. "I'm kind of disappointed that it had to be taken down by minimal complaints when you look at how much good it did," Moser said. "But, I can understand their situation, too."
Moser said that just because the bike is no longer there doesn't mean its work is done. He said it will be used at future community events to remind both bicyclists and drivers to always be aware.
Tracey's friends and family continue finding ways to keep her legacy alive. "Live life to the fullest and see the good in people," DeMond said.
Theresa Shirley, the driver who killed Kleinpell admitted to investigators she fell asleep behind the wheel because of medication. However, she was not criminally charged in the case. Earlier this year, she plead guilty to doctor shopping for a controlled substance and served time in jail.