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‘Ride of Silence’ Honors Fallen Cyclists

Fallen bicyclists will be commemorated in three silent bike rides in the area on Wednesday, May 17, as the Chicagoland Bicyle Federation prepares to launch a “Drive With Care” campaign to promote responsible driving.

Bike riders wearing black armbands will gather at 7 p.m. at Daley Plaza, Joliet Memorial Stadium, and Arlington Heights’ Recreation Park (see below for addresses), for ten-mile rides commemorating hundreds of cyclists killed on the roads annually. The Ride of Silence is taking place simultaneously in 177 towns and cities, according to Dan Korman of CBF.

Motor vehicles kill nearly 200 pedestrians and cyclists in the Chicago region each year, and injure thousands, Korman said. Pedetrians and cyclists account for nearly 25 percent of traffic-related deaths in the region. We tend to treat such fatalities as “accidents” rather than the result of reckless driving and traffic design that ignores nondrivers, Korman added.

Organizing the Joliet ride is Sara Jo Briese, whose 68-year-old mother, Janice Briese, was killed while biking in May, 2005. The driver in the case was acquitted of two minor traffic violations.

“It is beyond belief that someone driving with a clear sight line behind my mom kills her and walks free,” said Briese.

The Joliet ride will follow a memorial tribute at 6:45 p.m. for Janice Briese, who led the Joliet Bicycle Club’s Thursday morning ride for 12 years.

Chicago cyclists recently erected a “ghost bike” — a riderless white bicycle locked in place with a memorial sign — at 1000 N. Western Avenue, where 50-year-old father of three Isai Medina was killed by a hit-and-run driver in January.

In Arlington Heights, a 72-year-old cyclist died in October, 2004, after being struck by a hit-and-run driver.

CBF’s Healthy Streets Watch logs the constant stream of reports of pedestrian and cyclist injuries and fatalities.

The group’s Healthy Streets Campaign includes a range of initiatives “to make physically active transportation safe, convenient, and fun,” according to the group’s website. These include establishing a standard that all transportation projects must accomodate all modes to travel; establishing “safe routes” for pedestrians and bicyclists to destinations like schools, shopping, and parks; and opening selected streets for traffic-free biking and walking on weekends.

CBF is also preparing to launch a “Drive With Care” marketing drive, modeled on anti-drunk driving campaigns, to stigmatize all reckless driving and make responsible, attentive driving the norm.

The first phase will focus on speeding, pointing out that excessive speed is a factor in at least a third of all car crashes and virtually all pedestrian and cyclist fatalities. According to CBF, the probability of death and serious injury for a pedestrian hit by a car increases from 5 percent at 20 m.p.h. to 80 percent at 40 m.p.h.

The Ride of Silence will start at Daley Plaza, Dearborn and Washington, in Chicago; Memorial Stadium, 3000 W. Jefferson (Route 52) in Joliet; and Recreation Park, 500 E. Miner, in Arlington Heights.

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