What: Ride of Silence, an 8-mile bike ride at no more than 12 mph; cyclists must wear helmets
When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 21, with riders departing at 7 p.m.
Where: Start at Veterans’ Memorial Center, 203 E. 14th St., and end at the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame, 303 Third St.
One was killed in a hit-and-run on Putah Creek Road. Two others were struck on Covell Boulevard. Another collided with a pickup truck in a bike lane.
Still other local cyclists have been killed or injured in recent years while sharing the busy road with motorists.
Ride of Silence, a worldwide event that started in Dallas in 2003 after a cyclist there was struck by a bus’ side mirror and died, will take place for the fourth straight year in Davis on May 21 to honor fallen cyclists and promote the safe sharing of roads.
“In most of the world, the idea is more that cars belong on the road and if you’re a cyclist, you shouldn’t be inconveniencing the drivers,” Ellen Winder, this year’s Ride of Silence organizer, said recently at her North Davis home. But “we all belong on the roads and we need to share them.”
Members of the public are welcome to gather with their bikes at the Veterans’ Memorial Center, 203 E. 14th St., at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 21, and depart at 7 p.m. on an 8-mile silent ride going north on Anderson Road to Covell Boulevard, then east to Pole Line Road, south to Richards Boulevard, west into downtown and ending at the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame, where refreshments will be provided.
Cyclists across the world will be riding simultaneously in silent processions. Last year, on the event’s 10-year anniversary, 12,374 riders participated at 158 locations ranging from Hong Kong to Fairbanks, Alaska.
“The idea is to honor the fallen cyclists,” said Nancy Knofler, president of Davis Bike Club, which is sponsoring the event.
Knofler said the tragic hit-and-run death of cyclist Dan Taylor, a member of the Benicia Bike Club, in March on a popular Davis-Winters bike route will be on riders’ minds this year.
“It’s created more awareness, I hope, for cyclists and motorists,” she said.
Knofler noted that many cyclists are also motorists and are annoyed when bikers behave irresponsibly on the road. But she and other cyclists also “certainly feel it when motorists aren’t observant and watchful.”
Winder wants this year’s Ride of Silence to be more visible and attract a larger crowd than in previous years. She hopes the event will promote safe motorist-cyclist relationships in light of the power imbalance between the two.
“The playing field is so unlevel,” she pointed out. When a cyclist and motorist collide, “the cyclist is always going to lose.”
Winder was biking with her husband Bruce during a trip to Quebec, Canada, in 2010 when the two were hit as they made a left-hand turn. Bruce Winder, a skilled cyclist who commuted to work from Davis to Sacramento every day “in all kinds of weather,” was killed, and Ellen Winder broke her leg and collarbone.
Ellen Winder was hesitant to ride again after that, but “eventually decided I didn’t want to restrict my life,” she recalled.
Ride of Silence cyclists are required to wear helmets and bike no faster than 12 mph. Two police officers on motorcycles will close off intersections to cars as the group pedals through town.
Even though Davis is “a little island in the world” where drivers are more aware of cyclists — even when the latter forego bike lights or fail to stop at intersections — they need to be even more vigilant, Winder said.
“Drivers have such a responsibility for looking out for cyclists,” she said, “because cyclists are so vulnerable.”