LANSING, Mich. — On average, 1,000 bicyclists are hit by vehicles in Michigan each year, with almost 1,500 riders in 2019 and 1,200 in 2020.
Wednesday night, around 100 bicyclists silently rode almost nine miles from Michigan State University’s campus to the Capitol to honor those cyclists.
“I was the victim of a hit-and-run by a school bus in 1976,” Greater Lansing Ride Coordinator Patrick Harrington said.
“My dad actually passed away riding his bike. He was hit twice," said Jayne Snider, who has been riding for the past five years.
Jayne says her father's first accident was i\n 2013.
“He had nine broken bones, two broken vertebrae, a broken collar bone, a couple broken ribs,” Snider said.
The second happened in 2016.
“He was riding his bike to work again here at Lansing Community College, had just pulled out of the subdivision in Watertown Township, and going up a hill,” Snider said. “A woman I know hit him from behind. Again, she just didn’t see him.”
So, they ride.
This was the 15th annual Greater Lansing Ride of Silence, but this ride isn’t just something that happens locally. The first Ride of Silence was 20 years ago in Dallas, Texas. Rides are now held around the world.
“As of this morning we’re at about 225 officially registered worldwide, and we picked up one more event in Kenya,” Tim Potter, national board member for Ride of Silence, said.
The cyclists took off on their silent ride from the plaza east of Wells Hall.
“Once we’re at the Capitol steps, we break our silence and then we have a group photo and we have presentations and some speakers,” Potter said.
Harrington said both the League of Michigan Bicyclists and the Tri-County Bicycle Association were invited.
“After that, we’re going to Ozone’s Brewhouse for our after-party to celebrate the lives of those who were lost, and also encourage and celebrate the advocates who have been working to make our streets safer,” Potter said.
“The current legislative pursuits are for the distracted driving,” Harrington said. “Whether you would call that texting, or most cars have a big screen on the dashboard—trying to get people to watch out, slow down, give a wide distance to everyone.”
According to the Michigan State Police, in 2019, 21 bicyclists died in accidents, and in 2020 that increased to 38. In Ingham County alone, there were 43 bicycle-involved crashes.
“It’s the MSU ordinance that you’re supposed to bike in the roadway with or without bike lanes, but when it’s just paint we’ve seen–and this is true all over the country–that most people aren’t going to risk it,” Potter said. “They’d rather risk running into someone or something on the sidewalk than to be possible hit on the road.”
In 2020, there were 16 bicycle-involved crashes in Jackson County, 12 in Eaton County, 5 in Clinton County and 4 in Hillsdale County.
Potter said having a “better design facility in the road” with separation and physical barriers from vehicles would help.
“That would get people comfortable to ride where it’s safer and more efficient for them to ride,” Potter said.
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