By Chase Rheam
STILLWATER, Okla. —
A Stillwater bicycling group will observe an international day devoted to honoring bicyclists who have been killed or injured by vehicle traffic.
The Red Dirt Pedalers will host the International Ride of Silence Wednesday.
“This is an international ride and it was actually started in 2003 in Dallas and it was for a man named Larry Schwartz,” said Red Dirt Pedalers member Mary Cash.
Schwartz, a member of the Red Dirt Pedalers, was killed by a school bus mirror as he was riding his bike May 4, 2003. Following his funeral, the concept of the idea for a memorial ride was formed and the first Ride of Silence took place May 21 in Dallas.
Since the inaugural event, locations all over the United States and countries such as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Mexico and more have organized their own rides. Locally, the Red Dirt Pedalers have organized the ride since 2004.
“We’re very fortunate in Stillwater,” Cash said. “We haven’t had many killed.”
One of the last bicycle-related deaths took place in August 2010 when Debra Miller was killed on State Highway 51, 4 miles west of Stillwater. Each August, a ride in Miller’s honor takes place.
This year, participants will meet on Lewis Street in front of the Stillwater Municipal Building. Riders are asked to be present before 6:45 p.m. and to bring their helmets. The ride will be 8 miles long at 12 miles per hour.
“The route goes from downtown Stillwater to the north side of Boomer Lake and back,” Cash said. “We go to Airport Road.”
Bicyclists will ride side-by-side in silence to raise awareness. Traditional events will take place before the race.
“We are going to have a person from the Stillwater Pipe Band play his bagpipe,” Cash said. “We’re going to have Lt. Jones from the OSU Police Department come and read our poem before we start.”
The poem is read at every Ride of Silence.
“It always make me choke up because it talks about the people who can’t ride with you,” Cash said. “It’s really a nice poem.”
Cash said this week also marks “Bike to Work Week,” where bicyclists are encouraged to ride their bicycles to work. The Red Dirt Pedalers will meet Friday at two different locations — Babcock Park and in front of the Stillwater Municipal Building — before heading to the Stillwater Medical Center starting at 7:30 a.m.
Both groups are expected to arrive at 8 a.m. where a photo and raffle will take place. Refreshments will be provided by Stillwater Medical Center. Those who register at Cooper’s Bicycle Center during “Bike to Work Week” will receive a free Red Dirt Pedalers T-shirt.
For more information, call 372-2525.