Bicyclists everywhere took part in the International Ride of Silence Wednesday night.
Bicycle clubs organize their own rides of silence to bring awareness to the dangers of cars and bikes sharing the road. League of Michigan Bicyclists’ Matthew Penniman says the Ride of Silence reminds us that it’s not always safe to ride a bike, but it needs to be.
“We want people to have choices about how they get where they go. And for people to be safe no matter what they choose. Whether they choose to ride a bike, take a car, ride the bus, they should be safe,” Penniman states.
This is the 20th year of the International Ride of Silence and the 16th year it is being celebrated in Traverse City. Cherry Capital Cycling Club has organized the event for Traverse City since 2006. Event organizer Steve Mitton says it’s a great time to raise awareness.
“Just like spring flowers are coming up, bicyclists are up back out on the road again after a long hard winter. We just want motorists to be aware and look for us,” Mitton says.
According to the National Highway transportation Safety Administration, roads have gotten more dangerous since COVID. Bicyclist deaths have increased every year since 2019. Bicyclists deaths rose 5% above the already high rates of 2020. Cherry Capital says it’s important to raise awareness, especially in a community like Traverse City.
“Traverse City [has] a lot of cyclists. We have a lot of tourists driving our roadways. So, we do get some conflict there,” Mitton admits. “We have urban riders, country riders and trail riders. This is aimed more at the people that are on our streets. That’s really where we need people to be aware and watch for us.”
They ask drivers and tourists visiting the area to slow down for bicyclists. They also remind people to always keep your eyes on the road.
“That extra few minutes that bicycle might slow you down is a lot better than the alternative of a serious accident that will ruin everybody’s life,” Mitton explains.