HARBOR SPRINGS — What started as a single email turned into a 10-year affair with more than 300 rides worldwide. The annual Ride of Silence began in 2003 after the death of Larry Schwartz, who was struck by a mirror of a passing bus. Since then, this ride not only honored his loss, but also brought awareness to the safety of both cyclists and motorists who travel the roadways.
In one of more than 30 rides statewide and in its eighth year, the Harbor Springs Ride of Silence is bringing the message home on Wednesday, May 15. Organizer Christopher Benson knows firsthand the importance of sharing the roadway after being struck by a vehicle in August 2007.
Benson suffered multiple serious injuries in the accident, and unlike Schwartz, he was lucky enough to survive and have the opportunity to publicize this message.
"Since May is National Bike Month and next week is Bike to Work week, the message needs to be clear that both cyclists and motorists share the roadway. A 55 mph car is no match for a bike, so working together to make the roadway safe relies on both drivers," Benson said.
John McCloury, organizer of the Boyne City ride said awareness may be growing.
"The number of bicycle collisions are decreasing, and an event like this certainly helps," he said.
McCloury said more riders along the road at one time significantly decreases the chances of a collision with a vehicle. "It is the lone riders that are more susceptible to a collision as motorists are less aware of one bicyclist as they are with a group," he explained.
The Harbor Springs journey begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 15, at the harbormaster parking lot on Bay Street and will include eight miles of roadway in and out of town. The terrain is relatively flat and should take less than an hour to complete. With between 50-70 riders expected, an early arrival is encouraged.
The Boyne City journey begins at Veterans Park with a meet and greet at 6:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. ride. This ride covers 10 miles of roadway from Veterans Park to Whiting Park and back.
Riders are expected to wear helmets, follow the rules of the road, be totally silent during the ride, and travel no faster than 12 mph. Riders are reminded to keep in mind how not only is this an annual event to raise awareness, but also to honor those who have been injured or killed.