This evening, May 15, the Highland Rim Bicycle Club will join other cycling organizations across the globe in a somber ceremony to memorialize the bicyclists who have lost their lives on the road and to encourage riders and drivers alike to remain alert.
Dubbed The Ride of Silence, the local observance will be held at Frazier McEwen Park beginning with a brief ceremony at 6:45 p.m., followed by a slow and solemn ride along Jackson Street at 7 p.m., complete with a police escort.
Although the Tullahoma Ride of Silence is being organized by the Highland Rim Bicycle Club, participation is not limited to club members. The community is invited to grab a helmet, hop on their bikes and join the procession.
According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2017 alone 783 bicyclists were killed in traffic accidents on roads across the country.
The Ride of Silence dates back to 2003 in Texas.
According to the organization’s website, www.rideofsilence.org, cyclist Chris Phelan organized the inaugural ride as a memorial to his friend and fellow bicycling enthusiast, Larry Schwartz. Schwartz was killed after being struck by the mirror of a passing bus while he was riding his bike in traffic.
In the span of just 10 days, Phelan used word of mouth and an email chain to organize the first event, drawing approximately 1,000 cyclists to White Rock Lake in Dallas.
“The air became thick with emotion, as once steely competitors remembered those that have died doing something they loved, or remembered how close they had come to death on a past ride,” Phelan wrote after the first event. “One man was crying; several were moist with sadness. The rest wore sunglasses. In silence, they rode as one, remembering those that have gone before, themselves, and each other.”
There is no charge to participate in the Ride of Silence and it is not necessary to RSVP. All participants are asked ride no faster than 9 mph and remain silent during the ride. Helmets are required and front and rear lights are strongly encouraged. The 4.6-mile route will begin at Frazier McEwen Park, taking riders along a loop that includes North Jackson, East Lincoln and North Atlantic streets before the group returns back to North Jackson Street and makes its return trip to the park.
For more information on the Highland Rim Bicycle Club, visit www.hrbike.org.