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Letters to the Herald

Doylestown marks 14th year for annual Ride of Silence

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Cyclists of all ages and skill levels will begin gathering at Central Bucks West High School student parking lot as early as 6 p.m. on May 18 for Doylestown’s 11th annual family-friendly Ride of Silence at 7 p.m.
The ride honors cyclists who were injured or killed in bike/car accidents. We are part of a wave set starting in New Zealand and continuing through time zones all around the globe. Our local event is co-sponsored by the Central Bucks Bicycle Club and Doylestown Borough. Please join your fellow cyclists to promote safety on our roads.
The event began to honor Larry Schwartz, a competitive cyclist, who was struck and killed by the mirror of a passing school bus while training outside of Dallas on May 6, 2003. When a memorial ride to honor him drew more than a thousand riders, the news media spread the story.
Last year, 10,000 cyclists took part in 386 locations, in all 50 states, on all seven continents. Thirty cities in mainland China hosted new rides. Although cyclists have a legal right to share the road with motorists, most are not aware of these rights nor are the cyclists themselves.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Acting Deputy Administrator Ron Medford said, “The most important thing bicyclists and motorists need to remember is that they both share the road equally.” Since 1932, more than 50,000 cyclists have been killed in traffic accidents in the U.S. It has been estimated that 40% die in accidents caused by motorists who didn’t pass safely, but that number has decreased by 26% in the past decade.
As sobering as these statistics are, it’s a small number compared to the estimated 2.8 million premature deaths worldwide resulting from overweight and obesity-related illnesses. According to the League of American Cyclists: “Bicycling is part of the solution to many of our nation’s problems: the obesity epidemic, traffic congestion, air pollution and more.

Over 22% of all motor vehicle trips Americans take are less than one mile long, and 50% of the working population commutes 5 miles or less to work, an easily bikeable distance. If the average person biked to work or shopping once every two weeks instead of driving, we could prevent the pollution of close to one billion gallons of gasoline from entering the atmosphere every year.”
Our 2009 inaugural Doylestownride with 204 cyclists topped all venues in the Northeast, including bike-friendly Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York and Boston. Our ride continues to be one of the top-attended rides with more than 100 riders each year. Let’s keep it so. Please save the date.
Central Bucks Police, Central Bucks Ambulance & Rescue vehicles, and our fire department lead us out of the CB West HS parking lot and guide us through the borough. There are no stops as police stationed at intersections stop traffic and wave us through. In past years, as we pedaled, folks stopped what they were doing to acknowledge, wave, clap, smile, and cheer us. Through it all, we remained amazingly silent.
Riders of all levels are encouraged to join this silent, slow-paced ride. There will be remarks and safety tips preceding the ride, and riders may don armbands (provided) to remember those who have passed. Helmets are mandatory.
It takes a village so please contact Don at donberk1@gmail.com if you’re able to help with the ride or if you have any questions. We need volunteers to direct parking, hand out armbands, and get waivers signed by all the riders. Let’s make the 14th special.
Don Berk, Doylestown


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