Bicyclists to gather for 14th annual Ride of Silence event
“We are all honoring the past, this ride is a biking time of reflections and hoping that our fellow vehicle drivers will respect bicyclist and share the road with us,” said Patti Sousa, Sanibel Bicycle Club vice president, “I ride as an avid cyclist to remember people who have been killed on bikes.”
So mark your calendars for the 14th annual Ride of Silence to commemorate those cyclists injured or killed while biking. This worldwide event started back in 2003, with an impromptu first Ride of Silence taking place in Texas. More than 1,000 cyclists, all through word of mouth and emails, in a short span of 10 days honored a local bicyclist death. This pioneer ride was organized by Chris Phelan a friend of Larry Schwartz who had been killed cycling. Phelan never anticipated the event to be replicated, but it grew as bicyclist safety and vehicle awareness of sharing the road became an important message.
“Our club started to ride in it in 2008,” said Sousa. “We host a reflecting event, great route and it’s very near and dear to many of us who have had friends, or relatives of bike fatalities.”
The event is organized by the Sanibel Bicycle Club members Sousa, Salli Kirkland, and Mark Blust. They are generously sponsored locally by Sanibel Bicycle Club, Matzaluna Italian Kitchen Restaurant and Billys Bikes.
The club invites everyone to gather around 6:15 p.m. with a brief educational program and discounted appetizers at Matzaluna Italian Kitchen, Wednesday, May 18.
“We are also promoting road safety with bike and car courtesy,” said Sousa. “In Sanibel the bike paths are for slower moving bikes, when you see us riding on the side of the road it’s because we are bicycling at a fast pace.”
Sanibel is a cyclist’s haven with as many bike paths as roads. Many avid bicyclists groups come from all over the world and enjoy biking on Sanibel because they can ride fast with the traffic and feel safer with the slower vehicle speeds. It’s very important for the club to get the word out to Sanibel motorists that sharing the road is still necessary on the island even with the many bike paths.
Kirkland, of Billy Bikes, provides the fluorescent vests each year for the ride which adds visibility and unity.
“Before the ride we have gathering to go over the rules of road safety and welcome new riders,” said Kirkland. “You have to wear a helmet, sign a waiver and obey bike safety rules.”
The ride itself will leave from Matzaluna at 7 p.m. and proceed to the second Causeway Island and return to the restaurant for discounted food and drink.
“It’s a 45-minute ride you may start, but you don’t have to finish ” said Sousa. ” We all meet up at Matzaluna around 8 p.m. and really have a great after the ride get together.”
All ages are welcomed and individuals do not have to be a Sanibel club member. So, oil up the sprockets and join the Sanibel Ride of Silence, to help bring attention to the dangers of cyclists on the road and to honor the list of riders that have been killed enjoying their own sport.
“We welcome new cyclists, don’t be intimidated, come see what we are all about,” said Kirkland. “Just remember when you’re in a vehicle and you see a bicyclist drive safe, we can all share the road.”
For more information, visit www.rideofsilence.org.