A dozen members of the Fredericksburg Cyclists Club rode through downtown yesterday evening as part of the second annual local Ride of Silence. The ride, led by a white riderless "ghost bike" being pulled on a trailer, saw the cyclists ride in silence to draw attention to the perils which cyclists face on the roadways. The Fredericksburg Cyclists Club was not alone in their homage to cycling safety. The event is part of the international Ride of Silence movement which holds the funereal processions across the world every year on the third Thursday of May at 7 p.m.
The local route was a short one, focused downtown. The ride began following a ferocious early evening downpour and hailstorm which saw the riders huddling underneath the rail overpass on Sophia Street near the train station before setting off. Once the weather cleared, the group made two circuits of downtown, riding up Caroline Street to the VFW hall near the Falmouth Bridge before turning down Princess Anne Street and riding back to the train station.
The first Ride of Silence was held in Texas in 2003 following the death of Dallas resident Larry Schwartz who was struck by a school bus mirror as he was riding his bicycle. At Schwartz's funeral, friends came up with the idea to hold a ride in honor of Schwartz and other fallen cyclists. Initially, it was conceived as a one-off event, but it attracted more than 1,000 people and spawned a phenomenon in the cycling community which continues to this day.
Since 2002, there have been 16 car/bicycle accidents in the city, according to data from the Fredericksburg Police Department. Luckily for local cyclists, there have been no fatalities in that time from the accidents. Data for Stafford and Spotsylvania Counties was not readily available, according to representatives, however Bill Kennedy, public information officer for the Stafford Sheriff's Department says that serious bicycle accidents are rare in his jurisdiction.
To see a map showing the location of Fredericksburg's reported bicycle accidents since 2002, click here.
Local cyclists are praising recent efforts by Fredericksburg officials to more prominently consider cycling in the city's transit planning, pointing to the addition of shared-use arrows (sharrows for short) as a step in the right direction. The cycling community is also well represented on the Fredericksburg City Council, with councilors George Solley and Brad Ellis both known as avid bicyclists.