The Texoma Cycling Club and riders around the world are set to take part in the 16th Annual Ride of Silence Wednesday night, honoring cyclists injured or killed in collisions with cars on the road.
The 10-mile memorial ride is expected to draw 20-30 riders locally and will begin at 7 p.m. on Austin College’s campus. Texoma Cycling Club Co-President Mike Boyd said the group will use the ride to celebrate the life of a former member that died in a crash, as well as to generate awareness of cyclists’ safety and rights.
“It hits close to home,” Boyd said. “It seems like everyone in our club has had at least one near miss along the way.”
The Ride of Silence got its start in Dallas in 2003 and was organized in response to the death of endurance cyclist Larry Schwartz, who was struck and killed by a passing bus. Riders are asked to keep their speeds below 12 mph, don the necessary safety gear and to remain silent, unless calling out turns or discussing the route. Last year’s ride was held in 40 countries worldwide and on all seven continents, according to www.rideofsilence.org.
The U.S. Department of Transportation recorded 840 cycling fatalities across the country in 2016, the highest such figure recorded since 1991. The number of American cyclist deaths dropped in 2017, but federal data shows the annual average has consistently hovered at about 800 over the last decade.
Boyd said he and fellow riders often encounter distracted drivers on the road and frequently have little to no warning that a vehicle may be approaching at a dangerously close distance.
“We’ve been on plenty of club rides where drivers just aren’t paying attention or they let their cars drift and have passed us within only a few inches,” Boyd said. “And, sadly, it’s not uncommon to have several close calls a week when you’re going through an intersection and somebody in a car doesn’t see you or people swerve toward you.”
Boyd said cyclists also have a responsibility to keep themselves as safe as possible and to abide by all the applicable traffic laws on the books, but he hoped the memorial ride and its mission would resonate with all who use the road.
“Hopefully, people will see it as a reminder to think about cyclists on the road, to give us enough room when they pass and to do whatever they can to avoid distractions and help save our lives,” Boyd said.
For additional information about the local Ride of Silence, visit the Texoma Cycling Club’s Facebook page.