Wednesday in several cities throughout northern Michigan, cyclists will ride together...in silence. It's part of a national effort to remember bicyclists who have been killed or injured in bicycle accidents with cars.
Just last week in Traverse City, there was an accident. The car didn’t see the biker, turned, and the bicyclist was dragged 10 feet. The man’s injuries were not life threatening and police were not sure who was at fault. But accidents like this happen far too often.
Sharing The Road
Police officers in Traverse City say there needs to be more education about the rules of sharing the road – for drivers and bikers alike. Biking enthusiast Chris Benson of Harbor Springs agrees. He says without a clear sense of the rules there’s a mounting tension between drivers and cyclists. “There’s a bit of a prejudice against the guys in spandex,” says Benson.
There’s a bigger problem than prejudice. In Michigan in 2009, 19 bicyclists died in accidents with motor vehicles. This is the latest data available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Benson is one of the lucky ones – relatively. “I had shattered my L3 vertebra, fractured my C7, which if it would have displaced would have probably paralyzed me. Broke a few ribs. I was in the hospital for 8 days. I was in for 3 days before they performed fairly extensive surgery,” says Benson.
After that Benson’s wife convinced him to trade in the road bike and to stick to his first love, mountain biking. But he does hit the road at least once a year as the organizer of the Harbor Springs Ride of Silence.
The First Ever Ride Of Silence
The national event was founded in 2003 after the death of an endurance cyclist from Texas. The event’s founder didn’t know if anyone would show up. “As they were coming over the last rise to the point where they were going to start, they came onto the amazing sight of over a thousand people staged and waiting for the first ride,” says Benson.
From Dallas to Antarctica, the silent ride occurs all over the world and on every continent. Closer to home, the Ride of Silence will be in Harbor Springs, Traverse City, Boyne City, and Cadillac. The Ride of Silence starts Wednesday night at 7pm. Find more details at rideofsilence.org.