I missed this year’s ride while Shout Magic was recording our next CD in Sylvania, Pennsylvania. Last year’s ride was remarkably solemn and well-attended, despite the torrential downpour throughout the ride.
Bike deaths in Philadelphia can usually be counted on a person’s hands, yet each one is a tremendous blow to the bicycling community. There is a constant battle-for-your-life mentality when cycling on streets shared wit automobiles. Many, many drivers are calm, courteous and respectful, however there is still a predominant “Get off the road, asshole!” mentality that is pervasive in many drivers. Many of these struggles are shared by pedestrians as well, and this is within a bike-friendly, extremely walkable city.
It is frustrating when folks don’t understand that the road is to be shared equally. The same severity is faced by motorcyclists and pedestrians, all of which are considerably more economical than driving a car. I was always awed by the use of white, “Ghost Bikes” used in New York City to memorialize bicyclists killed while riding. I wonder why it has not been implemented in Philadelphia. Anyone have some junk bikes? I’ll bring the white paint.
On the narrow streets of Philadelphia 200 riders get noticed. On some streets bikes stretched for 3-4 full city blocks. Some pedestrians cheered us on, others may have mistaken the silent ride for Critical Mass.
The ride was held at 7PM in over 250 other cities around the world. www.rideofsilence.org
John Boyle, from the Bicycle Coalition, reported the ride’s reception downtown beared some semblance to a Critical Mass ride, which I recently criticized for its poor representation of bicyclists. It makes me wonder of the power, and practicality, of more organized rides such as the Ride of Silence.