Dozens of cyclists and bicycling enthusiasts gathered near the corner of South Catalina Avenue and Emerald Street mid-morning Friday for the dedication of a "ghost bike" in honor of Larry Schellhase, 68, who died from injuries sustained in a fall nearby in April.
Schellhase was bicycling with his wife and some friends down South Catalina Avenue when he ran over some metal debris in the roadway, causing him to fly over the handlebars and land face-first, bicycling blog BikingInLA reported in April. He died two days later at a nearby hospital of injuries to his head and neck sustained in the fall.
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Schellhase was an avid cyclist who cycled 6,000 miles in 2011, according to L.A. Wheelmen President Pam Leven. Schellhase was the organization's membership director and served as its representative on a Los Angeles subcommittee on safety and community cycling.
"Everyone looked up to Larry"—and not just because he stood 6 feet, 6 inches tall, Leven said.
She later told reporters that Schellhase was one of the "best-dressed cyclists" she knew, with his funny jerseys, including a "visible man" jersey that showed the body's organs.
"I just liked riding with Larry. He was always fun to talk to," she said. "He was quick; he was funny; he made me laugh out loud."
Schellhase was a cyclist, baker and a photographer, and he often took pictures of ghost bikes that he passed, she said. "He had a really good eye."
Beach Cities Cycling Club President and founder Jim Hannon called Schellhase's death a "tragedy."
Ghost bikes are bicycles that are painted all white and locked to a street sign or private property near where a bicyclist was hit or killed in the street, according to ghostbike.org. According to Hannon, this is the only ghost bike in the South Bay of which he's aware.
"I think the ghost bike ... was just a really moving tribute to Larry," Leven said.
Hannon first broached the idea of a ghost bike in Schellhase's honor.
"In this case, it seemed so appropriate because Larry was such an avid cyclist," Hannon said. "It's intended to remind passing cars and cyclists that we need to share the road respectfully."
While it's not uncommon for bicycle tires to pick up road debris, he said, the end result is usually just a flat tire.
"In this case, the worst case happened," Hannon said.
Indeed, people don't always realize the danger of road debris, said South Bay Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Mike Don.
"Bad things can happen, and it isn't always with other moving vehicles," Don said. "We are invigorated to do more about safety."
In a media advisory sent Monday, Hannon said cyclists should police the bike lanes.
"If you see something in the road or lane that could cause an accident, stop your bike, get off, and move the object out of the way," he said.