Global unity in Ride of Silence

Bendigo cyclists lined up awaiting the start of the 2011 Ride of Silence

Remember: Bendigo cyclists join the Ride of Silence each year to remember cycilsts who have been killed on the roads.

There are three things we can be assured that we will face in our life time: birth, taxes and death. Births can be such a celebration, the creation of new life a God given gift to be shared and enjoyed in the fullness of life. Taxes are a necessary evil for society to evolve and something many spend their life time trying to avoid or lessen the impact of and for us not to forget that taxes pave the roads we ride on. Death is something as mortals we won’t avoid it comes to us all sometime some place we may not have a choice in making.

In our lives statistically we are likely to attend more funerals than we will attend marriages. Deaths in cycling are real and something that grieves the soul when a cyclist dies as a result of a road trauma accident. It could well be that we see cycling having such a freedom that losing a life as a result of an accident is such a tragedy as the person killed is in the prime of their life not necessarily doing anything to affect others but enjoying themselves.

Most cycling accidents have a third party in a motor vehicle some which could have been avoided and some just in the wrong place at the wrong time. There are occasions as we have just witnessed in the 2011  Giro d’Italia where the sport of cycling itself claims a life. This last weekend Bendigo joined with in excess of 320 other rides across the Globe known as the Ride of Silence™.

The ride first came to be in America state of Dallas after endurance cyclist Larry Schwartz was hit by the mirror of a passing bus and was killed. The 2003 Ride of Silence™ was at White Rock Lake in Dallas and drew 1,000 cyclists through word of mouth and email communication over a period of only ten days. There was no registration and no fees. Local media reported the ride to be incredibly moving as these cyclists rode in silence, occasionally wiping away a tear or patting a friend on the back.

Chris Phelan, a friend of Mr. Schwartz and the person responsible for starting this initiative, thought the ride was a one-time event. However, as word got out other cyclists began to contact him with a desire to do the same thing in their own communities. In Bendigo the first Ride of Silence was in 2006 coinciding with the tragic death of Tim Ledwidge and the following year was around the same time as the saddened loss of Scotty Peoples a young cyclist who had just been selected for greater things. We are most grateful that we have not had any such losses since but have good cause to share this ride each year in making a silent account of our desire to share the roads safely in our community.

The ride is to honour all cyclists in their desire to have a safer cycling community as well as remembering such losses as described and riders injured in road incidents. There have been numerous near fatal accidents each year and this year has been no exception. It was sobering to meet with the three local Victorian Police of the Bendigo Highway Patrol Unit and for them to remind us of the need to share the road with respect and consideration, as they have to fill in the reports but it is the rider that may well be in hospital with broken bones and much worse that can have a life changing effect.

Another comment I read this week from another Ride of Silence™, was that the silence reminded them of the split moment during a crash where it seem we are suspended in silence waiting for the inevitable moment of impact to finish and pain to begin. It is always an eerie while in silence thinking that we join with like minded people almost like an arm or a leg of one body across the world for the one cause.

All but one state of America tried this year to conduct their ride at the same time and date, but alas rain made some rides join with our time here in the Southern Hemisphere, due to it being winter and daylight hours don’t allow us to conduct the ride to coincide with theirs. Again the cycling community are most grateful to the support of the City of Greater Bendigo, Vic Roads and Victorian Police in their support of the event.

Looking forward to seeing you on the road soon God willing.

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