Silent ride emphasizes bicycle safety awareness

By Bob Steenson, 

A dozen bicyclists pedaled a quiet, leisurely route through Charles City Wednesday evening, marking this community’s part in the international Ride of Silence taking place in cities around the world.

The ride’s purpose is to honor those who have been killed or injured while riding a bicycle and especially to raise awareness among motorists and public officials that bicyclists exist and have a right to share the road.

Bob Krueger, a bicycle enthusiast who organizes the ride each year, talked to the group before the riders started out.

Dressed in a neon-striped orange, green and yellow bike jersey and wearing a fluorescent green helmet, Krueger stressed the importance of being seen when sharing the road with vehicles many times larger, faster and heavier than bicyclists.

“We need to be as bright as you can possibly be so they can see you,” he said.

He also stressed the importance of bicyclists knowing what is coming up behind them before making turns, and of being aware in general of what it happening around them while in traffic.

The Ride of Silence began in 2003 in Dallas to honor a local endurance cyclist who was killed when he was struck by the mirror of a passing school bus. Within 10 days, emails and word of mouth organized a memorial bike ride that attracted 1,000 bicyclists with the idea that they would ride in complete silence.

Originally intended as a one-time event, the news of the ride quickly spread and prompted similar silent rides in other communities. Within two years the Ride of Silence had spread to more than 120 cities in eight countries.

Today the ride encompasses thousands of riders in hundreds of cities around the globe and is held the third Wednesday of May, during National Bike Month.

The Ride of Silence is a free ride that asks cyclists to go no faster than 12 mph so everyone can keep up, wear helmets, follow the rules of the road and remain silent during the ride. There are no registration fees — riders are asked to just show up and take part.