Chicago’s Ride of Silence

The ride of silence stopped by five peoples’ ghost bikes in Chicago: Clinton Miceli, Tyler Fabeck, Blanca Ocasio, Amanda Annis, and Isai Medina. I think the last death in the city was nearly a year ago, Clinton Miceli. A driver killed Clinton by opening his door into traffic, which stuck Clinton and threw him into the path of an oncoming car. This happened in June 2008, during Chicago’s Bike to Work Week. Even though I did not know him, I had to keep my office door shut most of the day after reading all the news stories because I could not stop crying. He was so young (22) and seemed like such a nice guy. At that time I’d been riding to work for only a week and had to ask myself, “Am I going to ride tomorrow? The day after?”

Clint's Ghost Bike during Ride of Silence

Clint's Ghost Bike during Ride of Silence - photo by Don Sorsa

Obviously, I kept riding. For one, I love riding too much to stop.  Also, the streets will be made safer the more people ride bikes. Cars are far more dangerous than bikes and cars put not only the occupants at risk, but anyone else who happens to be on the street.

Some may say that the Ride of Silence is bad for cycling because it focuses on the dangers and therefore makes new riders less likely to try cycling. I say that our society is not yet at the point where we can ignore the hostility on our streets. Cycling is NOT an ultra-hazardous activity, but our roads are not sufficiently safe for any users – largely because of the negligent way people drive their cars. But more than that, the Ride of Silence focuses on the lives of the individual cyclists who have been injured or killed on public roadways – it is a memorial ride more than a political statement. That is the reason I participated. The ride means a lot to the victims’ families, as heart-breakingly demonstrated by this comment left by Clinton’s mother on the ABC news story:

As the mother of one of the fallen, there were more than dozens of riders paying tribute and honor as an act of love, compassion, and a commitment to the safety of cyclists. Whoever rode, it was a completely selfless act of profound love and unity of spirit. We all were clear of who the fallen were for their loved ones and how profoundly missed they are. Thank you to who lit the 3 candles @ Clint’s bike. Thank you to Dan and the police officer who tweaked my bicycle to working order and thank you Cycle Smithey

That’s why I participated. Here are some professional pictures, taken by Don Sorsa, who takes beautiful photos of all the critical mass rides (and the recent Tweed Ride).

Police Escort

Police Escort - photo by Don Sorsa

Part of the crowd of 150 riders

Part of the crowd of 150 riders - photo by Don Sorsa

Speaks for itself

Speaks for itself - photo by Don Sorsa

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9 thoughts on “Chicago’s Ride of Silence

  1. evie says:

    I’m definitely in the “bad for cycling” group. I understand the reasoning behind RoS, but I don’t agree with the coordinated national focus.

    Was it really only five people who died riding a bike in Chicago in the last year? Maybe I’m misunderstanding, but that’s an incredibly low number, esp considering the number who have died walking or driving. Each loss is tragic, of course, and could happen to any one of us. But I’d consider only five people dying in a year a testament to the safety of cycling.

  2. Nico says:

    Your RSS feed doesn’t work anymore. Am I the only one having problems?

  3. While I’m not sure that these rides promotes the reality that biking is safe, I do think that anything that brings cyclists together is a good thing. Especially to commemorate fellow cyclists who died riding. Bike culture. Bike community. A shared understanding of the risks that we face in an unfriendly environment. Perhaps people will be provoked to advocate for changes that make biking safer. I do think that the ride may also show non-bikers what the consequences of irresponsible driving can do. And an awareness of the fact that cyclist are people too.

    My one complaint was that they asked that people wear helmets. For me that is suggests a particular agenda. It confuses what the dangers and the solutions are. Yes, while riding without a helmet may be more dangerous, it really isn’t the greatest danger. That would be the environment we ride in. Cars, trucks, buses. Bad infrastructure. Those are the biggest killers. For me they did jump into the “political” with the helmet request. That issue splits the bike community. We have huge obstacles in front of us, if we want safer biking. Let’s not divide up that community anymore than it already is.

  4. QM2 says:

    sad and frightening

  5. evie says:

    The RSS feed is still working for me.

  6. E A says:

    We “encourage” the use of helmets for good reason. To me, it’s comparable to requesting that someone driving buckle their safety belt – but now look how that has become the law!

    For a cyclist (or any vulnerable road user – motorcyclists, too), wearing a helmet is just safe practice, given the obstacles we do face on the road and just a little added safety from even a low impact crash. I do know several cyclists who would not still be here today if it hadn’t been for their helmet. That said, I realize there are bigger obstacles out there that pose a danger to cyclists, but we do what we can to protect ourselves from personal injury.

  7. Nico says:

    According to feedvalidator.org there’s an invalid token in your “Participate in the Ride of Silence” post from May 17. I am using Firefox and it keeps saying “live bookmark failed to load”. All other feeds are working. Sorry for my off-topic comments.

  8. Trisha says:

    I couldn’t be more on board with your excellent reason for participating, despite the fact that I didn’t go to Nashville’s ride. Bad bike commuter! Not sure how I’d feel about riding alongside someone wearing the sign the last girl has on. Of course she’s right about cars being deadly, but given the fact that they’re not going anywhere anytime soon, I’d rather not give them further “reasons” to resent cyclists.

    @Nico, I have no idea why that one post wouldn’t work. Are you saying the other live bookmarks for our blog are working?

  9. Nico says:

    Hi Trisha,
    no, I’m saying the live bookmark for your blog stopped working after the “singin’ in the rain” post. Now I have to visit your blog every time to check if there’s a new post.

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