Ride of silence honors fallen cyclists, promotes safety
By Tyler Stocks
The Daily Reflector
Thursday, May 17, 2018
Intermittent rain and dark clouds did not affect the quiet determination of a group of cyclists in downtown Greenville on Wednesday evening.
Police led the way as more than 100 riders participated in a “Ride of Silence” to remember fellow cyclists killed or injured in crashes.
The Greenville event was among hundreds of similar events across the nation and around the world, according to organizers. The purpose of the ride is to raise awareness of cycling safety while advocating for safer roads and meaningful legislation.
A local cycling group — East Carolina Velo Cycling Club — hosted the event with support from the Bicycle Post.
“We ride tonight to honor those who’ve been killed while riding,” Organizer Steven Hardy-Braz said. “We ride tonight to reduce the close calls on the roads.Tonight is kind of special in many ways. Tonight’s a night a time we can honor people and advocate for safer roads.”
According to Watch for Me NC, a comprehensive program run by the North Carolina Department of Transportation, 850 bicyclists are hit by cars annually in the state. A 2016 report by the N.C. DOT found 17 cyclists were killed statewide.
“This ride is being held locally to raise awareness for the increasing need for safer, inclusive and accessible streets, to honor those bicycle riders who have been killed or injured, and raise awareness of cyclists sharing our roads,” Hardy-Braz said.
Greenville Police Department Sgt. Charlie Espinoza, a cyclist himself, led the procession.
“I’m enjoying the fact that I have the opportunity to do this because I just took part in a law enforcement united ride,” Espinoza said. “I’m a cyclist myself and can definitely relate here.”
Espinoza and other police officers from across eastern North Carolina pedaled some 500 miles from Raleigh to Washington, D.C., to honor the service and sacrifice of men and women who died in the line of duty. The ride coincided with National Police Week.
Espinoza said drivers need to be more aware of cyclists and should respect their right of way. He recommended drivers giving cyclists at least four feet of room, especially on roads where no bicycle lanes are available.
This is the eighth year that the EC Velo has hosted the Greenville event,” Hardy-Braz said, adding that he is hoping more people can enjoy the health benefits of cycling while also reducing carbon emissions.
“We have hearts, lungs and legs for our engines rather than gas, oil and pollution,” Hardy-Braz said.
Hardy-Braz said cyclists should be able to enjoy riding their bikes.
“We think it's a human right to be safe,” he said.
To learn more about EC Velo, visit their website at www.ecvelo.org .
Contact Tyler Stocks at firstname.lastname@example.org and 252-329-9566. Follow him on Twitter @TylerstocksGDR