"Ride of Silence" Tonight Highlights Deadly Dangers For Cyclists in Miami

Aaron Cohen. Christophe Le Canne. Walter Reyes. This evening, in a group bicylce ride leaving from Crandon Park, hundreds of people will ride for them, and for all the other cyclists who have lost their lives while riding in Miami and around the world. 

"(The ride will) honor those that have been struck and killed on the road," organizer Maria Luisa de Jesus Hoover tells New Times. "To create consciousness that we should share the road with vehicles." 

The Ride of Silence began in north Texas in 2003 after a much-beloved marathon cyclist, Larry Schwartz, was struck and killed by a school bus. Two weeks after his death, Schwartz's friends organized a silent ride in memorial, and more than 1,000 people attended. The event quickly spread to cities around North America and eventually beyond; this year's ride will take place in 327 cities in 48 states and more than a dozen countries, including South Africa, Sweden, and Singapore. 

The event in Miami began in 2005. In March of that year, de Jesus Hoover, an avid cyclist, was nearly killed on her bike by a speeding motorist on the Rickenbacker Causeway. "Cars used to come out of there like bats out of hell," she says. 

De Jesus Hoover was riding with traffic when suddenly a merging car, which failed to see her, was headed straight towards her. The car came so close that driver and cyclist looked each other in the eye; at the last second the car finally braked, and De Jesus Hoover was sideswiped instead of smashed head-on. She was left with only scratches and aches and pains—but also a new commitment to raising awareness about bicycle safety. 

A few months later she helped organize the first Miami Ride of Silence, and she's been doing it ever since. This year, with good weather forecasted, she expects upwards of 400 riders of every stripe. Participants who have been struck by cars and survived, as she did, will wear red arm bands. Others will wear black arm bands, to honor the cyclists who can no longer ride. 

Most important, the cyclists will ride slowly, and in complete silence. "It's symbolic of a funeral procession," de Jesus Hoover says, "to honor those who have passed while riding."

This year's ride takes on special resonance in light of two recent deaths: In January Walter Reyes was killed in a hit-and-run on Rickenbacker Causeway—a site with a sad history of cycling tragedy—and in April a 25-year-old cyclist was killed after being struck on the Julia Tuttle Causeway

The event starts at Crandon Park Marina at 6:30. After a sign-in, Reyes' widow will deliver remarks, and then the eight-mile ride begins promptly at 7. Here are links to register and the event's Facebook page.
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Trevor Bach

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