The Ride of Silence

Yesterday evening I was privileged to take part in Tucson’s “Ride of Silence.” It was part of a worldwide series of rides held to remember bicyclists who have been killed or injured while riding. There were 32 cyclists and we rode a ten-mile circuit in town at an average speed of around 10 mph. We had a three-vehicle police escort (two patrol cars and a motorcycle) and a lead/pace car.

We began gathering about 5:30 PM at one of the ramadas in Reid Park (Tucsonans past and present will know where that is). A few minutes after 6, we left the park and rode west on Eastland St., turned north on Tucson Blvd., turned east on Glenn St., turned south on Alvernon Way, turned west on 22nd St., and turned north on Country Club Rd. to return to our starting point. This was apparently a departure from previous Rides, which I learned had been more of an east-west ride, on Broadway and 22nd – two of our busiest main streets. This year’s route was much quieter, with a lot less car traffic. (When we got back to the ramada, there were 30 pizzas waiting for us. I did my best to help consume them.)

I was disappointed by this choice, as the purpose of the Ride is to make motorists aware of bicyclists and their right to share the roads. But the decision wasn’t mine to make. I also would have preferred a northbound road other than Tucson Blvd. because that street is in TERRIBLE condition! Cracks, patches and new potholes were everywhere, and it was a very uncomfortable ride on a bicycle. But again, the choice wasn’t mine.

The biggest drawback I could see, though, was the silence. While it may not be an absolute requirement, everyone *was* totally silent on the ride (including myself), which meant that none of the normal audio cues we normally use in group rides (like alerting riders to holes, trash, or other obstacles; alerting a cyclist when you’re passing him/her; calling left or right turns; and warning of slowing ahead) were available. In a ride of 32 people, this wasn’t a major hardship, but I can see where it might be a big problem if the group were as large as one or two hundred.

The Ride takes place on the third Wednesday of May every year. I’m kind of surprised Toni and I never rode it in the past, but she might not have known of it, either. I only learned about it this year, although it started in 2003.

If you aren’t a cyclist, please remember that we have the same right to the roadway as you do. If you *are* a cyclist, please remember that you represent us all every time you’re on your bike, and what you do influences motorists’ opinions – so don’t be a jerk! We also have the same *responsibilities* that motorists have – signaling, obeying traffic control (stop lights, stop signs, etc.), riding in a safe manner, and so on. And be aware that, in any collision between a car and a bicycle, the bicycle will *always* lose.

Here are some photos from last night’s Ride.





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