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Sharing the Road in 'Silence'

Tenth Annual 'Ride of Silence' held in Trappe and Philadelphia on Wednesday in honor of cyclist killed by mirror of passing bus in 2003

 

Tonight, thousands of cyclists throughout the world will hit the road with their bikes in a silent, slow-paced ride to honor fellow cyclists who have been injured or killed on public roadways.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Ride of Silence, which began in 2003 in Dallas, when Chris Phelan wanted to honor endurance cyclist Larry Schwartz who was hit and killed by the mirror of a passing bus.

Since then, the Ride of Silence has grown globally, with hundreds of locations hosting their own slow-paced rides in honor of those who have been injured or killed, and to raise the awareness of motorists, police and city officials, and to remind them to share the road with cyclists.

There are no fees to participate in a Ride of Silence. Riders are simply asked to ride no faster than 12 miles per hour, wear helmets, obey the rules of the road and remain completely silent during the ride. “Still… zero words spoken, a million powerful memories,” the Ride of Silence website notes.

The Ride of Silence is held every year on the third Wednesday in May, during National Bike Month, in an effort to raise awareness that cyclists have a legal right to ride on public roadways. It’s also a way to honor the lives of those who have been killed or injured while riding bicycles on public roadways.

Since there are no sponsors or registration fees, all Ride of Silence expenses are met by volunteers and donations.

In 2011, more than 320 local Rides of Silence were held, including rides in all 50 states and on all seven continents.

This year, in our area, Rides of Silence are taking place in Trappe and Philadelphia.

In Trappe, local cyclists will meet at Trappe Shopping Center on Wednesday at 6:15 p.m. The seven-mile, silent ride will begin at 6:30 p.m., and will roll through Trappe, Perkiomen Township and Collegeville. Participants must wear helmets, but organizers will have a few helmets on hand to lend, just in case. The event is rain or shine, although cyclists will not ride in lightning. 

Politz, of BikeSport, said this is the third year she’s organized a local Ride for Silence.

“Considering there are other events in our area, I think we do pretty well,” she said. “We had about 20 the first year and maybe 30 the second year. This year we’re hoping for maybe 50 plus.”

Politz says that BikeSport gets involved for a number of reasons, including the obvious: the safety and well-being of its bread-and-butter customers, bicyclists.

“We’re interested in bringing awareness to motorists and cyclists and public figures, in the hope of always finding new ways to share the road so that we can all be safer,” Politz said.

As for the ride itself, Politz encourages cyclists to “just show up” on Wednesday night, wearing brightly colored clothing for visibility.

“The ride is kind of eerie and special,” she said. “There’s no talking, there’s no noise, there’s nothing. We’re trying to make a statement.”

In Philadelphia, an eight-mile Ride of Silence will begin at 6:45 p.m., at the foot of the Philadelphia Art Museum’s front steps. Following a brief pre-ride dedication ceremony, the silent ride will start at 7 p.m., through the city and circling back to the Art Museum. Bicycle lights are encouraged, since the ride is expected to last about an hour and a half. For more information, contact Ray Scheinfeld erayben@bellatlantic.net, 215-327-8315.

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