Less than a year ago I’d never heard of the Ride of Silence. I don’t remember how I found out about the website but I came across it one day and it claimed that the organization was created for this purpose:
- To HONOR those who have been injured or killed
To RAISE AWARENESS that we are here
To ask that we all SHARE THE ROAD
To be frank, I still wish I didn’t know what the Ride of Silence is. But now I do know, and I can’t ignore it. I can’t pretend it doesn’t exist. I can’t pretend that it’s not happening. Most of all, I can’t pretend there isn’t a reason for it… and that is what my biggest wish in all the world would be, if I could have any wish.
But bicyclists die. They die every day. As a matter of fact, nearly two people die per day while bicycling in America. Not only do I not like the fact of that, but I also don’t like the way that sounds: Bicyclists die. That’s so impersonal. What we really need to say and show and shout out to the world is who is really dying. So hopefully we can all start to think more about what the consequences really mean.
“I see the Ride of Silence as a little more than a group ride honoring fallen bicyclists. It is honoring people. People just like you and me. No, not even just “like” you and me, but … you and me.”
I’ll start: My son Dustin, 28 years old, intelligent, outspoken, compassionate — died; Colin, Logan and Jenna’s brother Dustin was a victim of homicide; Sam and Minnie’s grandson Dustin was mowed down by a reckless driver; Toby, James, Elvina, Bridget, Angie, Gabe, Jonny, Eric, Dan, Jared, Crystal, Sean, Jed, and others — their friend Dusty, whom they’d known since he was just a kid, was stolen from them by a drunk driver; Mitch, Luanne, Kurt, Ragnar, Will, Bruce, Sue, and others who knew him as a committed activist and college student — Dustin was taken from them before they even really had a chance to get to know him… but not before they came to care about him.
So I see the Ride of Silence as a little more than a group ride honoring fallen bicyclists. It is honoring people. People just like you and me. No, not even just “like” you and me, but … you and me. Somebody’s daughter, somebody’s son, a wife, a husband, a nephew, a niece, a cousin, an aunt or an uncle, a friend, a co-worker, Hank or Tracey, Brett or Sheryl, Chris, Nick, Gareth, Angela….Dustin.
And that is part of why I am going to participate in my first ever Ride of Silence. To honor real people killed while riding bicycles. And as a recently bereaved mother, I want to be around others who are thinking of these people, who don’t want these tragedies to happen to other people, to other families. I want to be part of a community that cares about safety and truly wants everyone to share the roads. Because what’s good for people, whether they are brothers riding bikes, friends walking, or mothers driving cars is that we all understand, we all fully appreciate, our right to safe transportation and our responsibility ourselves to help make it happen.
I hope you you’ll join us on May 16th (event details here).
— Publisher’s note: Mrs. Finney joined friends and family of Michael Vu (a young man killed by a hit-and-run driver while bicycling in Oregon City last summer) for a rally outside the Clackamas County Courthouse this morning at the sentencing hearing for the man convicted in Vu’s case (he got 18 months). The rally brought attention to Oregon’s lax hit-and-run laws. Check out more of our Reader Stories here.