Ride of Silence raises awareness for bicyclists on roads

Published: May. 18, 2022 at 10:39 PM CDT
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ROCK ISLAND, Illinois (KWQC) - Bicyclists across the Quad Cities gathered Wednesday night to ride in silence and solidarity with those injured or killed on the road.

There have been four fatal bicycle accidents in the Quad Cities since the Quad City Bicycle Club’s last Ride of Silence, making now more important than ever to remind drivers, they share the road.

“A lot of people have people that they’ve lost, that they’ve lost in one way or another, been struck by the cars,” said Dean Mathias, one of the organizers of the ride. “So it’s a way to galvanize that interest.”

As about 25 cyclists took off from Schweibert Park in Rock Island, similar Rides of Silence started all across the country.

“The reason we’re doing it is to honor bicyclists who have been killed or injured in a crash with a motor vehicle, and to bring awareness to motorists that we have a legal right to the road,” said Deb Mathias, secretary of the Quad Cities Bicycle Club and an organizer. “We’re all out there riding on our own much of the time. But here we all come together as one unit. To make a statement.”

The cyclists wound through Augustana campus, to Riverside Park in Moline, and all the way back again, in silence the whole time.

“Every time I go out, I think about safety and I think about whether or not people are gonna see me.” said Dawn Wohlford, a member of the QCBC board.

“If we’re on a street, people should be giving us three feet of space to the side so that we can go our way and they can go their way and nobody gets hurt.” said Anita Hocker, another QCBC board member.

In just under a month, on June 3, it will be one year since cyclist Alex Marrietta was struck and killed by a speeding driver in Davenport. His widow Kristen attended the ride and remembrance ceremony with the club.

“Bittersweet. It’s something that Al and I could have done together. Maybe,” said Marietta. “But it didn’t hit home before. Unfortunately. Not like it does now. And I appreciate it so much more.”

Other members of the club hope raising awareness will help prevent future accidents.

“I want it to be: ‘Oh, my gosh, we should be aware of this. And man, I hope it never happens again.’” said Ben Lloyd, a member of the QCBC. “‘What should I as a driver be doing that I can help prevent- So that never happens?’”

The hope is that cyclists can focus on the feeling that brings them back to their bikes day after day.

“I’s just a very freeing feeling. It’s a feeling of accomplishment,” said Marietta. “Because you are really working. It’s a workout, of course. But it’s just, it’s so much more.”

As far as tips for staying safe, every cyclist on the ride had their bike outfitted with front and rear flashing lights, and were wearing helmets and bright, reflective gear.

For drivers, the major requests from cyclists are to keep your eyes on the road, stay off your phone, and pay close attention when you’re sharing the road with a bike.

You can find more information on local biking events and resources at QCBC’s website here or at the Friends of Off-Road Cycling’s website here.

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