Members of the local community will have the opportunity to honor cyclists who have been injured or killed while biking and advocate for safer roads during the upcoming Ride of Silence event taking place this week in Uptown Greenville.
ECVelo, a cycling club in Pitt County, is hosting Ride of Silence which will take place Wednesday at 6 p.m., and registration is not required to participate. The event is in celebration of National Bike Month, according to a press release from local ride organizer, Steven Hardy-Braz.
Hardy-Braz is the coordinator of the event and a member of the ECVelo club. He said Ride of Silence is a free event and open to cyclists of all ages.
“Anyone who doesn’t need to ride a bike with training wheels can attend. As long as they show up with a workable bike and a helmet, they can come along,” Hardy-Braz said.
Participants should plan to meet at the Uptown Bicycle Post parking lot at 6 p.m. The ride will start at 6:30 p.m. and conclude around 7:45 p.m. A social gathering at Pitt St. Brewery will follow the ride, according to Hardy-Braz.
Hardy-Braz said the ride will follow a set course around Greenville, and participants will ride for about 10 miles in silence.
“We’re doing this to advocate, to let people know that we’re here on the roads, and we want safer roads for everybody,” Hardy-Braz said.
Hardy-Braz said the ride is not just for cyclists, but for anyone in the Greenville community, and ECU students who are in town for the summer are welcome to attend.
Hardy-Braz said the proposal and advocacy for safer roads doesn’t only apply to people riding bikes, but also ECU students who walk and bike around Greenville and ECU’s campus.
“With so many ECU students walking from their cars and biking to and from campus, we want to make sure all the roads in Greenville and ECU’s campus are safe,” Hardy-Braz said.
According to the Ride of Silence organization website, the Ride of Silence started in 2003 in Dallas Texas. 1,000 cyclists came out to honor the life of Larry Schwartz, a cyclist who was killed by a school bus mirror. His friend, Chris Phelan, came up with the idea for the ride.
When word got out about the event, people started hosting the ride in their own communities. The event will be taking place at the same time at 373 locations worldwide, including in 47 U.S. states, according to the Ride of Silence website.
The event will be focused on highlighting the city’s transportation improvements and changes that are still needed, such as the “purposefully narrowed sections of Evans St. that dangerously force cyclists and cars together,” according to a Ride of Silence press release.
“Cyclists will have to cross a set of railroad tracks and are encouraged to do so perpendicularly so as to avoid being thrown when wheels become stuck in between the tracks and the pavement,” according to the press release. “They will be warned that none of the tracks in Greenville are signed cautioning users.”
The ride is unique to each city that holds the event, Tony Parker, Bike Pitt commissioner and Ride of Silence advocate, said.
“Ride of Silence is a global ride that is used to commemorate the people who were either killed during the year riding their bikes or injured by someone hitting them with a vehicle,” Parker said. “Every city has their own ride. The one in Greenville does require people to wear a helmet. It’s a moving event, and affects all of Greenville.”
According to Parker, the event usually attracts a crowd of around 70 people, but some years, the turnout has been closer to 100 participants.
Parker said Mayor of Greenville, P.J. Connelly, and North Carolina House representative Kandie Smith and Senator Don Davis may be riding in the event too.
For more information on the Ride of Silence event, visit the organization's website, call 252-717-0490 to speak with the event coordinator, or call 252-258-7569 to contact ECVelo.