Patrick Stephenson is a copywriter at Minnesota Public Radio and the director of 30 Days of Biking. Follow him on Twitter, @patiomensch, where he tweets like 5,000 times a day.

The Ride of Silence

Posted by: Patrick Stephenson under Physical infrastructure, Transportation Updated: May 23, 2014 - 9:54 AM


On Wednesday night, I participated in the Twin Cities Ride of Silence, an in-motion tribute to cyclists who’ve been injured or killed while pedaling.

Organized by Ron Schwarz, whose brother Larry was killed in a hit and run in 2003, the ride was a slow roll up and down St. Paul’s Summit Avenue. Several dozen cyclists, from spandexed roadies, to jeans-wearing cruisers (like me) and hard-pedaling kids, joined in. Most wore the ride’s official T-shirt, a bright yellow number with Share the Road written in large type on the back. Led by bicycling cops, with ride marshals sprinkled throughout, we kicked off from a grassy spot by Summit Avenue’s overlook on the Mississippi River. Over the next hour, we rode toward the University Club atop Ramsey Hill and looped back around toward the river.

For safety, we rode with helmets on, in single file, in the bike lane. Mostly we biked in silence, apart from a few warnings about glass and cars ahead or behind. It was a solemn procession.

The Ride of Silence is a worldwide event, with group rides organized, on the same day across the world, in more than 200 countries. The very first ROS was actually inspired by the death of Larry Schwarz, a long-distance cyclist who was clipped by the mirror of a school bus that left the scene. The first ROS had more than a thousand participants, and the organization it birthed now aims to “raise the awareness of motorists, police and city officials that cyclists have a legal right to public roadways. The ride is also a chance to show respect for and honor the lives of those who have been killed or injured.” Ride organizers always choose high-visibility roads, like Summit Avenue at the tail end of rush hour, to emphasize this.

I was, as ever, impressed by how respectful everyone in our group was. The Twin Cities bicycling community takes events like this one — as well as 2014's previous memorial rides for Marcus Nalls and Charles Lord — very seriously. Traveling by bike is a lifestyle we’ve all chosen. We understand what it takes and know intimately the vulnerability it requires, and we want to honor our friends.

One takeaway from the ride: I truly do not enjoy bicycling on St. Paul's Summit Avenue. Despite its busy-ness as a bicycling throughfare, it's rotten for two-wheeled travel. The streets are congested at all times with traffic. The ever-unswept bike lanes are filled with rocks and glass, and are pretty much always in close proximity to doors. My own daily route, from downtown St. Paul to Minneapolis, includes Dayton and Portland Avenues, both of which parallel Summit but are highly preferable. 

Photo Credit: Camille Verzal

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St. Louis 2
Pittsburgh 4 FINAL
Atlanta 2
Miami 7 FINAL
Washington 11
Detroit 4 FINAL
Philadelphia 4
Minnesota 6 FINAL
Baltimore 5
NY Yankees 7 FINAL
Houston 0
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Boston 3
Baltimore 4 FINAL
Toronto 2
Cincinnati 8 FINAL
LA Angels 6
Chicago Cubs 2 Bottom 7th Inning
Kansas City 0
Los Angeles 4 Bottom 6th Inning
San Francisco 6
Chicago WSox 4 FINAL
Cleveland 1
Milwaukee 0 Bottom 8th Inning
Oakland 6
Seattle 4 Bottom 7th Inning
San Diego 6
Texas 3 Bottom 6th Inning
Los Angeles 7
Colorado 8 Top 7th Inning
Arizona 6
Arizona 1 Bottom 8th Inning
Colorado 2
Houston 99 FINAL
Washington 91
LA Lakers 99 FINAL
Brooklyn 107
Minnesota 88 FINAL
New Orleans 110
Philadelphia 78 4th Qtr 7:34
Cleveland 80
Detroit 15 1st Qtr 7:16
Miami 8
LA Clippers 21 1st Qtr 5:25
Boston 13
Dallas 6:00 PM
Memphis 6:00 PM
San Antonio
Oklahoma City 8:00 PM
Washington 5 FINAL
NY Rangers 2
Calgary 4 2nd Prd 7:50
Nashville 1
Boston 1 2nd Prd 10:20
Carolina 0
Detroit 3 2nd Prd 11:30
NY Islanders 5
Florida 1 2nd Prd 10:22
Ottawa 0
Anaheim 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Chicago 6:30 PM
San Jose 6:30 PM
Michigan State 76 FINAL
Louisville 70
Gonzaga 38 2nd Half 15:51
Duke 36
Philadelphia 0 2nd Half 35:00
Chicago 1
Toronto FC 6:00 PM
Real Salt Lake
(7) Florida State 74 FINAL
(3) South Carolina 80
Villanova 70 FINAL
West Virginia 75
Michigan 69 FINAL
Southern Miss 60
Temple 48 2nd Half 9:18
Middle Tennessee 38
Siena 30 2nd Half 12:19
Louisiana 42
St Marys-CA 46 2nd Half 10:11
(5) Baylor 7:30 PM
(2) Notre Dame
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