May 15, 2019
I’m going to the Ride of Silence on the evening of Wednesday, May 15, 2019. This ride honors those who have been injured or killed while riding and raises awareness about sharing our roadways. If you’re in favor of this, come ride with us.
The Ride of Silence happens worldwide and is now in its 17th year. In New Orleans, we will meet at the St. Charles Avenue fountain in Audubon Park (directly across from Tulane University) at 6:30 p.m. and depart after a few remarks. We will ride in “silence” and head up the Mississippi River levee before doubling back for the return. Total riding distance is about 12 miles.
This year’s ride in New Orleans will have particular significance. Over a ten-day period in February and March 2019, three bicyclists were killed on the streets of New Orleans. On February 20, Frank Fisher rode down the Carrolton Avenue bike lane when he and the driver of an overtaking garbage truck fatally collided. On March 2, a drunk driver sped down the bike lane on Esplanade Avenue. He killed two people, Sharree Williams and David Hynes, and injured numerous others. Their ghost bikes now serve as a daily reminder of these losses. Not coincidentally, this ride is held during National Bike Month.
As a past participant of this ride for many years, I’ve observed several things. First, this is a ride for everyone and all capabilities. We adhere to the suggested speed limit of 12 mph, which is a pace that I’ve found allows me to reflect on the purpose of the ride. You don’t need to worry about drafting and can just pedal, think, and feel. Second, the ride is free to all. Third, a helmet and bike lights are strongly encouraged. Finally, this event has the same purpose and tone across all 373 rides that happen at the same time. Last year, I rode with many of my Bike Law North Carolina friends at the Charlotte Ride of Silence. Despite the rain, there was an impressive turnout from a strong riding community that showed up to honor those killed or injured while cycling. I encourage you to link up with the ride happening closest to you. If there’s not one, consider starting your own.
The first Ride of Silence was organized in Dallas after cyclist Larry Schwartz was struck and killed by the driver of a passing bus. The ride happened days after this fatality and drew 1,000 cyclists from the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Chris Phelan, who organized the first ride, thought that this was a one-time event. He then began getting calls from other cycling communities who wanted to hold their own rides. After 16 years, this ride is now held on 7 continents, in 20 countries, and in 47 states in the U.S.
For families affected by roadway fatalities, this ride is a chance to properly honor the lives of those who have been lost. Frankie Fisher’s sister, Angie, says that her brother “was happiest when living life and riding his bike” and that the “care and support of the bicyclists in New Orleans” has helped while their family continues to mourn this loss.
This year, we’re having a post-ride get together a short distance from the ride’s gathering spot in Audubon Park. Light food and refreshments will be provided at 1527 Calhoun Street when the ride finishes. Come join us.