Upcoming Ride Of Silence To Raise Bike Safety Awareness

MassBike will lead the Boston-area Ride of Silence on Wednesday, May 18, 2011, one of hundreds of such rides taking place worldwide to honor bicyclists killed or injured while riding on public roads, and to raise awareness of the need for motorists to exercise more caution around bicyclists. The ride occurs during Bay State Bike Week, the statewide celebration of bicycling. We’ve seen lots of you riding this spring, and we urge as many of you as possible to attend this important ride. We need to send a strong message to the public that bicyclist safety on the roads is an important issue that affects many people. Let us know if you plan to attend by RSVPing to Rides@MassBike.org.

The idea of the Ride of Silence is to draw attention to the human toll caused by roads that are poorly designed for bicycling and by motorists who fail to drive safely around bicyclists. While biking remains a generally safe mode of travel, it is still important to note that we bicyclists do have significant vulnerabilities that may not be recognized or fully appreciated by the general public, and motorists in particular. This ride highlights the fact that as gas prices rise and more people take to the streets on two wheels, we all need to slow down a little and exercise good judgment.

The ride will depart Seven Hills Park behind the Davis Square MBTA Station in Somerville at 7pm (plan to arrive no later than 6:45pm so we can depart promptly), then make its way through Cambridge to Boston where it will conclude at the Charles Street entrance to the Boston Common. The six-mile ride will take place in total silence, at a slow pace, with only signs worn by the riders to explain the purpose of the ride. The route intentionally takes busy streets in order to draw the greatest amount of attention, though the riders take care to follow the law and minimize interference with motor vehicle traffic.

The ride will conclude with brief remarks at Boston Common. If you would like the name of a friend or relative who has been killed or injured in a bike crash to be read aloud, please notify us at Rides@MassBike.org. Also, if you would like to say a few words at the end of the ride, we welcome your thoughts.

In addition to the Boston-area ride, there are rides in Leominster and Worcester. Check our calendar or the Ride of Silence website for details.

MassBike has led this ride for several years, and the opportunity to ride silently and think about those whose lives have been changed or ended because of a bike crash, and everyone we’re trying to protect by raising public awareness and advocating for better roads, has always proven to be meaningful. Please take some time to join us for this very important event.

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3 Responses to Upcoming Ride Of Silence To Raise Bike Safety Awareness

  1. j.annkatz May 13, 2011 at 5:08 pm #

    It seems that the Ride of Silence serves two equally important purposes. The first is as a memorial event. The second, as the name of the ride states, is to “Raise Bike Safety Awareness.” I do not for a moment mean to diminish the tragic and avoidable losses of cyclists’ lives that are clearly attributable to motor vehicle operator negligence (or worse), and dangerous and grossly inadaquate roadways. Further, raising awareness is another way of saying a call to action- to anyone and everyone who uses public roadways.

    My concern is that the responsibilities for bike safety are everyone’s, including the community of cyclists. Failure to include us in the conversation about public safety seems to suggest that cyclists have no role to play in improving safety conditions and drastically reducing the incidence of serious and fatal accidents. We must be active participants in working for the changes that are necessary. That means communicating with local and state leaders, elected and otherwise. Supporting ordinances and laws that will improve safety conditions. Becoming involved in public education.

    It also means abiding by the rules. In cyclist vs. motor vehicle collisions, are cyclists ever cited for breaking the laws that apply to us? How many of us even know what they are? Absent knowledge of the law, I am always amazed at the risks that large numbers of cyclists take- with their own safety, pedestrian safety, and even at times motorist safety. Riding at night with no lights, amd riding in traffic without a helmet, are two practices with potentially grave consequences. Maybe it is a good thing that the state doesn’t enforce (by imposing penalties) the laws that all adult cyclists are subject to; at least it avoids vitim-blamining. Right now, the responsibility to “police” ourselves is ours. Why not include in the call to action that cyclists within and without MassBike undertake a safety awareness campaign by us, FOR us? Increase or forge new partnerships with public safety officials and businesses to hold safe operator classes, with safety equipment available for purchase at a discount? What kind of statement would we be making to the public at large if we were able to see to it that every bicycle on the road after dark is equipped with a white headlight and a red tailight? Aren’t there things we can do- individually and collectively- to mitigate at least SOME of our vulnerability?

    How much more difficult would it then be for the driving public to say that we are part of the problem?

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