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A report from the Ride of Silence

Posted by on May 16th, 2007 at 8:38 pm

Ride of Silence
File photo: 5/16/07

The Ride of Silence drew hundreds of cyclists to the northeast Alberta neighborhood tonight.

We met at the Community Cycling Center where Alison Hill welcomed us to the ride and introduced Commissioner Sam Adams. Adams said it’s important for Portlanders to remember that the right-of-way is for all modes and that we must all work together to share the road.

People attached “See & Be Seen” posters and memorial signs for fallen friends to their bikes.

Ride of Silence
Ride of Silence

The ride had a full police escort and we were ferried along without worry of traffic. By the time we got rolling, the number of riders swelled. While riding north on 15th street I noticed an unbroken stream of cyclists than ran more than the entire length of NE 15th, from Killingsworth to Alberta.

It was my first Ride of Silence and it was strange to be in a bike parade where faces were somber, not smiling.

I had to leave the ride early and the battery in camera died so I only got a few photos.

Ride of Silence
Ride of Silence

I have mixed feelings about the goals and intentions of this ride, but I won’t get into them now. It’d be great to hear some other perspectives. Several other cities across Oregon held similar rides tonight. If you did any one of them, I’d love to know how it went.

NOTE: At BikePortland, we love your comments. We love them so much that we devote many hours every week to read them and make sure they are productive, inclusive, and supportive. That doesn't mean you can't disagree with someone. It means you must do it with tact and respect. If you see an inconsiderate or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan and Michael

  • Peter May 16, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    I missed it due to a late class but I wanted to do the Beaverton ride. I saw a ghost bike on my way home over on Hall st. Very eerie especially since it was a kid’s bike.

    Does anyone have a map or anything that shows where the ghost bikes were placed?

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  • bjorn May 16, 2007 at 11:38 pm

    I wasn’t able to go to the ride last year shortly after some I knew was killed by a hit and run driver, because I was travelling for work. I decided to go this year, not quite sure what to expect. I was surprised that although there were several hundred people at the CCC that I only spotted a few familiar faces. This ride definately drew from a very wide swath of portland riders. For the first few miles I felt very sad, thinking quite a bit about my friend, but as the ride went on and I overheard people who were waiting for the ride to pass asking what it was for, and our police escorts politely explaining that the ride was in rememberance of cyclists who had been killed I started to feel like maybe the ride was making some kind of a difference. Overall the reaction people had to the ride seemed to be positive, although many passerbys weren’t sure what was going on exactly.

    After the ride ended I started to bike off towards home and a car driver loudly honked because he had to wait a couple of seconds as the crowd of bikes headed out of the park. So maybe it made a little difference, but I think we still have a long way to go before we are really there.

    Overall kudos to the BTA, in small towns this ride goes off with very little planning and is small enough to be no big deal, but without all the planning and work with the PPB this ride would have not been possible. Part of the point of the ride is that it is non confrontational, and without our escorts I doubt that would have been possible.

    Also Evan, that was a very nice eulogy at the end of the ride. Thanks for bringing it to such a nice close.


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  • Scott Mizée May 17, 2007 at 5:12 am

    I wish I could have been there. My thoughts and prayers to all who were riding in remembrance of friends and relatives.

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  • Kevin Van Dyke May 17, 2007 at 7:31 am

    Hello Jonathon,

    I rode the RoS for the second time. I find it to be a moving experience. The only sound being the whir of spokes through the air being the most eerie thing about it. The bike traffic was quite heavy and riders of various skills scattered throughout made sharp attention mandatory. I didn’t see any mishaps but wouldn’t be surprised if there were a few tangle ups.

    This year’s event had even more meaning for me, I was almost one of the statistics. A car ran a stop sign and collided with me 8 months ago. 4 broken ribs, a collapsed lung, torn aductor muscle, and unconscious for 1 hour…..and still trying to get the insurance company to pay. But it could have been worse. It all happens so quickly.

    Thanks for the great resource!

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  • Greg Raisman May 17, 2007 at 8:01 am

    It’s been 9 years since my roommate was killed on his bike within view of the glass door in our living room. Memorials like last night help a lot with the healing process.

    I hear what you’re saying on the mixed feelings, Jonathan. The best way I can think of it is to bet that they were similar to the mixed feelings I experienced when I went to a memorial for a friend’s mom who I didn’t know. I went there to support my friend, but didn’t know the rest of the family or friends. I felt a little out of place. However, I know that having people there to celebrate his mom’s life helped my friend heal from the loss.

    There were those who have been injured as well as friends and family of those who have lost their lives and been seriously injured there last night. As one in that group, the huge show of support from the bicycle community, from the Police, and from people on the street we just happened to pass created a powerful experience that was certainly felt by every individual in a different way.

    The Ride of Silence also seemed to bring the community together to focus on making cycling, and the roads in general, safer. It may be somber and slow. But, I think it gives the community a very important opportunity to think and reflect.


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  • Barbara Chapnick May 17, 2007 at 9:09 am

    I rode in the Ride of Silence last night we had in Washington County. It was a sombering event with White Ghost Bikes around various areas of the route to celebrate the lives of those bicyclist killed while riding their bikes. Several family members of slain cyclist were there and thanks us for taking time to “remember their family members”. Riding by the ‘white ghost bikes’ with signs of names of the person killed gave me chills down my spine. Not everything in life needs to have great purpose and long lasting outcomes. I think the “Ride of Silence” is a necessary event, a memorial to our fellow bicyclist, and I would participate again next year.

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  • Alison May 17, 2007 at 9:22 am

    This was my first ride of silence.

    It’s hard to describe the feeling of riding among a silent group of hundreds of cyclists.

    We won’t eliminate the dangers on the roads, but we can raise awareness that the roads are shared by lots of people and that we all need to watch out for each other.

    As I rode to work this morning with my See and Be Seen poster still strapped to my bike rack, I stopped at signs instead of rolling through. For me, it’s about the responsibility I can take to make the road safer.

    I also want to thank the BTA for organizing the ride, to Greg for helping get the route escorted and a great big thank you to the police and, particularly Sgt. Voepel, who escorted the ride.

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  • Brad U May 17, 2007 at 11:06 am

    I participated in the Corvallis RoS last night. There were about 150 riders, not bad for a fairly small town. The riders were a mix of young kids, aggressive looking club riders, and casual commuters and recreational riders both young and old. There were a couple of brief comments before the ride, including a few words from the mother of a cyclist who was killed by a hit and run driver here in 2004. Like Portland, we had a full police escort and did not have to stop at traffic controls (this was a change from last year’s ride).

    In general we were well received by motorists and pedestrians along the route. Quite a few onlookers gave us the thumbs up and waived, and I did not see or hear any negative feedback. I think it portrayed cyclists in a positive light and might have made a good impression on others.

    It was a somber but enjoyable time.

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  • matt May 17, 2007 at 12:43 pm

    i attended the Seattle ride-o-silence; there was a good number of cyclists (250+ i’d guess) although no police escort.

    you can find my write-up on it here: http://cyclinginseattle.blogspot.com/2007/05/silent-ride-and-one-not-so-silent.html

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  • Matt Picio May 17, 2007 at 1:07 pm

    I was near the back of the ride, and I have to say I was very impressed with the escort that PPD provided. There were a couple of incidents where they stopped pedestrians from trying to walk though the middle of all of us cycling, and one instance where one of the motorcycle officers asked a motorist to “just chill out a second” because we were almost all the way clear of that intersection.

    For the most part, people were patient and respectful of us when we rode by, which was appreciated.

    This was an interesting experience for me, because I don’t personally know any of the cyclists whose memorials we passed last night. I thought of how I’d feel if any of the people I’ve grown to love and care about in the last year were to suddenly be killed by a car, and my heart goes out to all of the friends, family, and lovers of those cyclists.

    May we all have plenty of opportunities to celebrate, and few to mourn.

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  • organic brian May 17, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    “Does anyone have a map or anything that shows where the ghost bikes were placed?”

    Peter, the ghostbike.org website is still in development, but as usual bikeportland.org provides lots of archived info:


    I thought the RoS would have made more impact to the general public if they could more easily understand what its purpose was. To a lot of people, we just looked like a lot of cyclists riding real slow, with police escort. Next year I’ll think ahead and create a bunch of signs “R.I.P. ” or ” killed by car / truck” and so on. Maybe there could be a sign-making get-together in advance of the ride.

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