Tonight’s Ride of Silence a Powerful Statement for Bicycle Safety

larry_swartzTonight is the 15th annual Ride of Silence here in Fort Worth and Dallas — and all over the world. Cyclists will ride in silence but the message is loud and clear: bicycle riders have the right to share the road with cars and trucks.

The Ride of Silence began in Dallas as a one-time event to commemorate endurance cyclist Larry Schwartz, who was tragically struck and killed by the mirror of a passing bus on May 1, 2003 north of McKinney. The incredible rider pedaled over 25,000 miles in 2002 and had already cycled over 7,600 miles in the first four months of 2003 before he was hit. The sobering first ride at White Rock Lake attracted over 1,000 cyclists with only a week of word-of-mouth publicity.

The heart-breaking event has expanded to educate cyclists and motorists about safe practices. It is shocking that 818 bicycle riders died in the U.S. in 2015, a huge 12% jump over the previous year.

Thousands of bikers throughout the world will simultaneously ride in silence starting at 7 pm. The rides are scheduled in 445 locations in all 50 states and in 48 countries.

Bikers of all skill levels, including kids, can participate and the rides are free and open to the public. Bring your family or just hop on your bike.

Join the Fort Worth and Dallas Rides 

11174937_355092298030149_8086464220780517633_nHere’s what you need to know if you are here in Fort Worth:

Cyclists are meeting at the gazebo on Trinity Park Drive at 6:30 pm.  At 7 pm, participants will remember the bikers who have been injured and killed in traffic accidents in the last year. Our wonderful “bike-crazy mayor” Betsy Price will then share a few words and join us as we depart at 7:15 pm for a leisurely-paced 10-mile ride through downtown Fort Worth, the
Near Southside and the zoo.

In Dallas, cyclists will gather on the west side of White Rock Lake and at the west side of the new Ronald Kirk Pedestrian Bridge downtown.

I am riding in Fort Worth.

Dallas-Fort Worth Drivers Need to Share the Road

The Dallas-Fort Worth is a car-centric city. Our original city planners designed our roads to accommodate motor vehicles first and bikes as an afterthought.

Fortunately, the cars-first attitude is shifting. We have several great bike paths and much improved bike lanes. The Cowtown B-cycle system has made bicycle commuting more accessible to residents and visitors. Mayor Price hosts a bike ride each week, which is not only a great opportunity to see the city by bike, but the perfect chance to express your ideas for improving our city.

But with an average of 48 bicyclist deaths every year in Texas, we clearly need to do more. I often see motorists who are completely oblivious to the biker take unnecessary chances.

Here are some basic tips for motorists:

  • Chill. Remember that the cyclist has the right to be on the road too.
  • The biker is not a car, so don’t tailgate it;
  • Leave plenty of room when passing a cyclist; and
  • Be particularly vigilant in residential areas.

Bicycle Riders Need to Be Careful Too

We cyclists have a duty too to protect themselves and to look out for motor vehicles and pedestrians.

I ride the Trinity Trails often and have seen some frightening close calls. I also trained to run over 50 marathons there, largely on the dirt path next to the actual concrete trail, so I’ve seen the issue from both sides. The bottom line is we all need to remain aware of and courteous to each other.

Cyclists can also avoid traffic crashes bydreamstime_xs_885332

  • Increasing visibility with lights, bright clothing and reflective tape;
  • Obeying traffic signals and rules of the road — yes, that includes stopping at signs and lights;
  • Being predictable so drivers can anticipate your moves;
  • Remaining aware of your surroundings at all times; and
  • Always wearing a helmet

I just spoke to a representative of the organization that monitors the Trinity Trail and urged them to add a yellow stripe down the middle and make pedestrians walk on the dirt trail. I hope my message gets through so no one is injured as cyclists yell out “on your left” to often confused walkers and runners, some who can’t even hear us since they are wearing head phones.

May is National Bike Month, which is the perfect time to pledge to be more careful as a cyclist and a motorist.

I hope to see you this evening in Fort Worth.

More on this subject:

North Texas Bicycle and Motorcycle Accidents A Serious Problem 

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