Ride of Silence raises road safety awareness amid rise in cyclist fatalities
LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The annual Ride of Silence, which honors cyclists who’ve been injured or killed, has become even more important in 2021 after a deadly 2020 for cyclists in Texas. Plus, the pandemic popularity of bikes has put more on the road.
“Whether it’s for exercise or whether it’s to avoid public transportation, those cyclists that are out there are now going to encounter motor vehicles at the normal pre-pandemic levels, and injuries and deaths are going to occur,” Paul Friener, secretary of the West Texas Cycling Association said.
Every year around the globe cyclists take part in a silent ride to remember those who have been hurt on public roadways and to raise awareness of their right to be on those roads. This year it’s on May 19.
“We know plenty of people who have been injured or killed here in the local area,” Friener said. “We find that really important to always raise awareness when we have this opportunity.”
That opportunity comes as AAA reports bicycle sales increased 62 percent in the U.S. in 2020 compared to last year. According to TxDOT, there was a 16 percent increase of cyclist related fatalities in 2020.
The ride includes a white “ghost bike” that is a symbol of the riders who have been killed. It’s taken to the location of those tragedies but in this ride, the hope is it will be noticed by motorists.
“It just brings attention because people may not know about the responsibility that they have as motor vehicle drivers and what cyclists may have when they’re on the road,” Friener said.
Friener tells KCBD it’s important for both the cyclist and motorist to work together to keep everyone safe, which includes respecting one another’s right to the road, give each other space, slow down and obey traffic laws.
“If a vehicle and a cyclist is doing that and realizing how can we both be on the road together safely, it’s going to lower the injuries and deaths on the road,” Friener said.
He encourages people to contact the TxDOT district coordinator of its Bicycle/Pedestrian programs if you have a concern about safety. Click here for a list of those coordinators and their contact information.
For more information about the West Texas Cycling Association, click here.
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