Hit-and-Run Cyclist Victim Dave Martinez Remembered at ‘Ghost Bike’ Ceremony
Three dozen cyclists honored Dave Martinez with a 1.5-mile ride on Saturday that culminated in the installation of a bike memorial for the hit-and-run victim, who died Jan. 7 at age 53.
The ride ended at 33rd Avenue and Zuni Street in Northwest Denver where family and loved ones had gathered for the dedication of a white-painted “ghost bike.”
The bike will remain there as a remembrance to Martinez — and as a reminder of the dangers drivers pose to people on bikes.
During the ceremony, members of Martinez’s family held back tears as he was eulogized by a handful of speakers, including Allen Cowgill, one of the North Denver cyclists who organized the event.
“I hope … that when you see this ghost bike, you don’t think of the crash, but you’ll think of your favorite memories of him,” he said to Martinez’s family. “And how much he loved biking, and how much he loved you.”
Martinez’s death added to the number of Denver traffic fatalities in 2018, which reached 59, an increase of 16 percent. The number of people killed on the city’s streets continues to grow despite Mayor Hancock’s Vision Zero pledge to eliminate all traffic fatalities by 2030. Statewide, distracted drivers caused 57,298 crashes between 2012 to 2015. Martinez was killed as he biked home from work.
“Traffic fatalities are not statistics,” said Jill Locantore, executive director of WalkDenver. “They are people like Dave Martinez.
He left behind four children.
“His kids were his world,” said Gloria Gonzales, his ex-wife and the mother of his four children, in an interview. “His daughter graduated from college two days after he was hit.”
Martinez would often stretch his budget to buy bikes, Gonzales said.
“As a little kid he rode a bike,” she said. “I met him on a bike. He mountain biked. Biking was his life.”
Many attending the service wore the colors of the Denver Broncos, Martinez’s favorite sports team. After the spoken remembrances, the crowd quietly surrounded the ghost bike. Cyclists, children in bike helmets, and family members then attached flowers.
“If he would have known that something like this would have happened, that people really cared about him, he would have been just overwhelmed with gratitude,” said Gonzales.
Two police officers joined the ride on mountain bikes, but the department says there still is no suspect in the hit-and-run.
“I was always telling him, ‘Just be safe, Dave. Be safe,'” said Gonzales. “He would say, ‘Think of me when I’m on my bike.'”
“‘I will,’ I said.”
Martinez’s family set up a GoFundMe page to help cover medical expenses: In Loving Memory of Dave Martinez.
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