Annual “Ride of Silence” Honors Bicyclists Injured or Killed in Traffic Collisions in Maryland and Elsewhere

Anyone who has lost a friend or loved one to a traffic-related pedestrian or cycling accident needs no reminder of the senseless nature of such events. As ones who represent the victims of severe and fatal automobile, motorcycle and trucking-related roadway collisions, I and my legal staff have first-hand experience with people whose pain may take years to go away, if ever.

Here in the Baltimore area, as with parts of the District, Cumberland, Annapolis and Bowie, MD, hardly a week goes by that there isn’t a news report of a car crash involving a cyclist or pedestrian. These types of accidents are almost always “one-sided,” in that the person on foot or on his or her bike has little protection against a 3,000-pound car or even larger commercial delivery truck or 18-wheeler. In these instances, closed-head trauma, spinal cord injuries and broken bones can all be quite common.

The upcoming “Ride of Silence,” being undertaken by cyclists and bicycle clubs all across the globe, will hopefully raise the needed awareness regarding the dangers of car- and truck-bike crashes. While it is hardly reasonable to expect that all bicycle and pedestrian collisions can be eradicated through this or any other single effort, its heartening to think that even one person will not die in the future as a result of this mass demonstration of respect for those who have passed away as a result of senseless traffic accidents.

According to news reports, the Ride of Silence is an international cycling event designed to promote public (read: driver) awareness of bicycle riders who share the road with motor vehicles. The message is simple: Cyclists who share the roadways with cars and truck are, in a word, fragile and deserve to be accorded some respect and consideration by drivers of much larger and potentially deadly car and trucks.

The event, which place on May 16 this year, will begin at 7pm here on the East Coast as part of a global event that will sweep across every continent. The organizers hope that the effort, which has been around since 2003, will raise awareness through a silent ride through local streets and communities. The first ride was reportedly organized by Chris Phelan in Dallas, Texas, after a well-known endurance cyclist was killed as a result of being struck by the mirror of a passing bus while he was riding on his bike.

Here in Maryland, a number of scheduled rides will take place in Baltimore (starting from at the Baltimore War Memorial Plaza); in Hagerstown (from Hagerstown’s Fairgrounds Park); in Olney, MD (leaving from the Harris Teeter parking lot in the southwest corner of the Fair Hill Shops); and in Rockville (at the Town Center Plaza near the Rockville Memorial Library).

Each of these events will begin at the appointed 7pm starting time. There reportedly are no sponsors, nor any registration costs. Organizers ask that people simply show up with a bicycle and a helmet and participate in the slow and solemn ride with no talking. In Rockville, riders will receive a police escorted for the 10-mile course through the city and its neighborhoods.

Ride of Silence to be held May 16,, May 7, 2012

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