On May 21, inclement weather didn’t stop a band of King County cyclists from the task at hand: riding an 11-mile route to acknowledge the untimely deaths of their comrades.
The event was the Ride of Silence, a worldwide rolling gesture aimed at those who share the road with cyclists, walkers and runners.
Every day, people in the Puget Sound area put their lives on the line to do something as simple as riding a bike.
For all the health benefits that cycling — or running, or walking — brings, there is a dark cloud on the horizon when we take our healthy habits to the streets.
Of course, it is a two-way street. Cyclists and other non-motorized street users need to be aware of the rules of the road. Striding into a crosswalk without looking first, cycling into traffic without so much as a hand signal -— these can contribute to the ongoing dilemma of accidents with cars.
But careful as riders may be, that caution is for naught when a motorist isn’t paying attention. A 2,000-pound car versus a 20-pound bike is a one-outcome equation.
Last month’s Ride of Silence was partly to memorialize those riders who were hit by vehicles.
Such as Bellevue dentist and mother Gail Alef, 54, who was struck by a car in September 2005, as she was riding with her cycling club in Redmond. The driver of the car swerved across the road and hit her, then fled the scene, leaving the car on top of her. He’s serving a 20-month prison sentence for her death.
Or Seattle resident Susanne Scaringi, 27, who died in September 2006, after her bike collided with a van that turned in front of her in West Seattle, as she was riding to work.
Three-dimensional lives reduced to one-dimensional statistics.
As the Puget Sound region continues to grow and more cars ply its streets, cyclists and other road users need to be more careful than ever.
And as of July 1, hopefully there will be one less distraction to worry about: cell phones will need to be hands-free.
But new laws and political gestures can’t make up for one thing:
Please share the road with cyclists. It’s the right thing to do, and lives depend upon it.