Tonight was the Ride of Silence, not only in Tuscaloosa, but around the world. This is the fourth year that the ride has taken place in Tuscaloosa. The Ride of Silence is a silent procession to honor cyclists who have been injured or killed on the roads. The pace is not more than 12 mph. The Tuscaloosa ride began at Capitol Park and wound through downtown Tuscaloosa, across the bridge to Northport, through Northport, and back across the bridge. It was about 8-10 miles.
Riders wear either a black armband to honor those injured or killed or a red armband if they have been injured in an accident. I am fortunate to wear a black armband. Before the ride several bike club members spoke about their experiences in accidents. My friend Dr. Curtis Tucker and his brother-in-law, Eric Wilson, both spoke about the recent accident Curtis was in when he was hit by a driver who did not see him. Carol Moore-Smith spoke about her accident a year ago when a truck ran a stop sign. Another member spoke about his accident when a truck almost hit him and he was not wearing a bike helmet. We ride to honor these riders and to raise awareness in the community that we do share the roads with cars. We ride to honor and remember those who were less fortunate and who lost their lives in accidents. We also remember that we need to take as many precautions as possible to keep ourselves safe on the roads.
My friend Laurie Bonnici organized the ride. She, too, has been in an accident with a vehicle. She asked me if I would ride sweep this year and I was happy to do that for her. Riding sweep means you are the final rider. I think there were a couple of riders who thought I was just dropping back, but really I was supposed to be last. From that position I could see all the fantastic riders ahead of me – the race team members, the Tuesday night riders, those who regularly ride Centuries, my friends who I ride on Sanders Ferry Road with on Friday afternoons, and the riders who have helped me along as I have gotten back on a bike over the past few years. It was really a special place to be in my mind.
The ride ended just before dark. We turned in the armbands. A few people lingered and I heard several comments about how meaningful and emotional it was to be part of this ride. I hope we are all safe on the roads and that those who saw us pass by tonight remember that we do share the road with them.