Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ride of Silence Recap

Yesterday approximately 250 bicyclists gathered at the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art under overcast skies.  Thunderstorms were in the area, but these riders braved the looming rain.  Some wore spandex and rode fancy racing bikes, others wore jeans and rode heavy cruisers.  All gathered to pay tribute to bicyclists killed by motor vehicles, and to raise awareness within Philadelphia about bicyclists' rights to share the road.

In a light drizzle, the crowd listened in silence to Ride of Silence organizer Ray Scheinfeld read the names of the 14 Delaware Valley bicyclists killed by motor vehicles in the preceding 12 months.  Standing with Ray on the Art Museum steps was the family of Russell Garrett, a Haverford College professor killed while bicycling on West Chester Pike last July.

A little after 7:00 pm, police SUVs led the pack of cyclists onto the street and down Ben Franklin Parkway.  The rain stopped and the riders moved through the city smoothly, following the lead trailer carrying a symbolic white bicycle.  Police and Ride volunteers blocked traffic for the impressive pack of cyclists who stayed within a few blocks of each other for most of the 8-mile ride.  The absence of cars or talking cyclists, and the paused intersecting traffic, made streets like Spruce eerily quiet save for the hum of bike tires on pavement.

Three pedicab companies donated services to the ride: Purple Pedi, Velo-Park, and Chariots of Philly.  The Garrett family travelled from Louisiana for the event, and the pedicab companies took the family on the ride.

The ride took approximately one hour, ending back in front of the PMA.  There participants did a bike lift before dispersing into the evening as they had come: by bicycle, sharing Philadelphia's roads.