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Thursday, February 12, 2009

An Open Letter to Macy's: make this a win-win for bicyclists and Macy's

Jim Sluzewski

VP Corporate Communications

Macy's Inc.

Dear Mr. Sluzewski,

No doubt by this time you've received many letters or calls about the white bicycle in Macy's "My Funny Valentine" display in the New York flagship store. The issue at hand is the resemblence of the display to what are commonly known as "ghost bikes," white bicycles placed at the sites of traffic crashes that resulted in bicyclist fatalities. Despite the lack of formal organization, ghost bikes are internationally recognized within the bicycle community (see http://www.ghostbikes.org/), and within that community, Macy's display appears to make light of these fatal traffic incidents. The matter has been featured in several news pieces (for example: http://gothamist.com/2009/02/09/macys_white_bike_valentines_display.php).

Now, "bicycle people" in America tend to get a little defensive. It's understandable - they are confronted with an automobile-dominated transportation culture on a daily basis. I'm pretty sure that the designers of this marketing campaign did not intend to reference the ghost bike phenomenom, but I think no one can deny the de facto similarities between the two.

I suspect Macy's directors, executives and staff feel as most of us do: that traffic fatalities are tragic events, and that they should be prevented whenever possible. In order for Macy's to make itself understood clearly on this point, I suggest the following:

  1. Provide a poster or fliers at the site of the My Funny Valentine display informing shoppers of this issue, the meaning of ghost bikes, Macy's unintentional use of the symbolism, and the corporation's view on traffic fatalities and public safety.
  2. Donate 1% of profits from sales related to the My Funny Valentine marketing campaign to Transportation Alternatives, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting the interests of pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users in New York City.

Look, I know this is small potatos for a company like Macy's, but it means a lot to the bicycle community. Do the right thing, please. On Valentine's Day, wouldn't it be nice to see a company with a heart? Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Thanks for your consideration. Sincerely,

David Moskovitz

7981 Eastern Ave #101, Silver Spring, MD 20910



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