Local groups partaking in ‘Ride of Silence’ to remember lives lost in bicycling accidents
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The Ride of Silence is an annual event held in many cities around the world to honor cyclists who have been killed or injured while riding on public roads.
Raising awareness about the presence of bicyclists on the road and emphasizing road-sharing practices, the event is always held on the third Wednesday in May.
On Wednesday, May 17, local groups are gathering at 7 p.m. at Empie Park to honor cyclists.
Bicycle awareness and safe pedaling have been key topics of discussion this month, given that the month of May is bike safety month.
In Brunswick, New Hanover, and Pender counties, there is an average of 59 bicycle crashes annually, according to the NCDOT.
The Terry Benjey Bicycling Foundation and Cape Fear Cyclists, along with hundreds of other organizations that will be cycling across the globe, will travel together in silence and at a slow pace, typically 12 miles per hour.
The ride is not a race or a demonstration, but rather a tribute to fallen riders and a call for greater safety on the roads.
The first Ride of Silence was held in 2003 in Texas and spread rapidly shortly after. Riders around the world can relate with one another because everyone has the same fear in the back of their minds when riding on busy roads.
“For those of us that are cyclists, when somebody’s lost, we all feel it. I think that we all feel a sense of ‘It could be me,’ we all feel a sense of family that we’ve lost someone,” said Tammy Swanson, a safety instructor for the Terry Benjey Foundation and Cape Fear Cyclists.
One triathlon athlete has never been able to ride the way she used to after the loss of her sister three years ago.
“Let me tell you, your heart is in your throat. My heart is in my throat. I have not been hit, I’ve had crashes and it’s very scary. I do more of my riding inside now rather than outside and I don’t ride alone anymore at all,” said Kitty Cole, safety and education chairperson for the Terry Benjey Foundation and Cape Fear Cyclists.
The City of Wilmington currently has projects underway to expand the Masonboro and Greenville loop trails, along with being in the design phase of reconstructing the sidewalks on S 17th Street, all to accommodate bikers.
City officials said that their focus is to connect all of the existing trails to one another, creating a network of trails.
The organizers of the ride ask that if you see them riding around at 7 p.m. to take a moment of silence for the lives lost and know that you can always do better as a driver on the road.
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