On the third Wednesday of May each year, the Ride of Silence is held nationwide in remembrance and “to honor cyclists who have been killed or injured on America’s roadways.” As the community’s advocacy organization for safe streets, Bike Fort Collins takes ownership of and accepts the role of leading this poignant event locally in an effort to honor individuals in our community who have either been seriously injured in a bicycle crash, or have lost their lives in a crash, and to remind us of the important work we need to do to keep our streets safe for all vulnerable road users.
Unfortunately, similar to last year’s Ride of Silence, this year’s route purposely passed two locations where our community saw two more bicycle fatalities earlier this year in as many back-to-back days. As such, we had over 50 riders participate, over 3 times the number we had last year. We met at Retreat Bakery on Wednesday, May 17th and prior to rolling out, began by reading the following poem by Mike Murgas:
Tonight we number many but ride as one
In honor of those not with us, friends, mothers, fathers, sisters, sons
With helmets on tight and heads down low,
We ride in silence, cautious and slow
The wheels start spinning in the lead pack
But tonight we ride and no one attacks
The dark sunglasses cover our tears
Remembering those we held so dear
Tonight’s ride is to make others aware
The road is there for all to share
To those not with us or by our side,
May God be your partner on your final ride
We then rolled-out at approx. 5:45 p.m.—in silence—following an 8 ¼ mile route through the southern part of Fort Collins. We stopped for a moment of silence at a ghost bike that had been placed at each location in honor of each individual. BFC had placed fresh flowers (courtesy of Paul Wood Florist) on each ghost bike in advance of the ride. The first crash site, just over a mile into the route, was at the intersection of Lemay Avenue and Centennial Road. Here we remembered George Rigby, 81, who was killed when he was hit by a vehichle traveling northbound on Lemay on Sunday, February 26, 2023. We then continued, stopping at the next ghost bike approx. 4-miles into the ride at the intersection of McMurray Avenue and Harmony Road, where we remembered Jim Defazio, 76, who passed away when he was struck by a vehicle traveling eastbound on Harmony on Monday, February 27, 2023.
From here we circled around to the Mason trail, where we concluded the ride at Purpose Brewing. Participants were able to share their thoughts and reflections among one another, as well as their hopes for an even more bicycle friendly and safe future for Fort Collins. Purpose Brewing shares a parking lot with Recycled Cycles, and we were super-appreciative of Recycled Cycles for coordinating a mini-group ride among folks who met at their parking lot before the ride began. They then rode over to starting point of the ride at Retreat Bakery together, so when we concluded the ride at Purpose Brewing/Recycled Cycles parking lot, they’d be back where they started or where had parked their vehicles.
Since the crashes occurred, BFC has participated in a Rapid Response Meeting hosted by the City and held on-site at the intersection of Lemay and Centennial. This meeting was held per Supporting Action 4.3 of the City’s newly adopted Vision Zero Action Plan, as the section of roadway where the crash occurred is considered to be part of what the plan determined to be the High Injury Network (HIN). The intention of the Rapid Response Meetings are are to investigate how roadway design may have contributed to the crash, and implement potential near-term safety improvements as appropriate to the location (and even other locations with similar characteristics). While the primary solution to alleviate the high stress nature of the intersection of McMurray and Harmony is to get the proposed and designed Power Trail grade separated crossing under Harmony constructed, BFC will be monitoring plans for and/or advocating for a similar Rapid Response Meeting to be held at the intersection.
Bike Fort Collins will remain steadfast in monitoring these efforts and advocating for others to improve the safety of our roads for all vulnerable road users. Many thanks to all who attended.
In the meantime, please ride safely.