11:49 AM CDT on Wednesday, May 17, 2006
About 3,000 cyclists are expected to slowly and quietly pedal around White Rock Lake on Wednesday evening as a remembrance of those killed or injured while riding their bicycles.
The annual Ride of Silence starts at 7 p.m. in the 3800 block of West Lawther Drive, between Branchfield Drive and Fisher Road. Cyclists are expected to move less than 12 mph for the approximately nine-mile ride.
The annual event was organized three years ago by Garland resident Chris Phelan to honor his friend, Larry Schwartz, who was killed in May 2003 by a passing school bus in Collin County.
The first gathering of about 1,000 cyclists originally was meant to be a one-time event, Phelan said. But the idea resonated and since has grown to a national movement that is spreading to Canada and Europe. Riders in more than 200 U.S. locations will honor fallen cyclists tonight, according to the Ride of Silence Web site.
"A collective silence will be profound and we can’t be ignored," Phelan said.
Schwartz’s partner, Judith Jolly, said she believes the ride makes motorists more aware of bike riders and saves lives.
"The mentality is that vehicles are the only thing that should be on the road," she said. "They do not know that cyclists have the same rights and follow the same rules. They see us as an obstacle. They are in a rush and if they have to wait a minute or two because of a cyclist, it gets to them."
Gail P. Spann, event director for the Dallas ride, said some cyclists are coming from as far away as California.
"It's the heart and soul of the Ride of Silence," she said. "This one has the biggest crowd and they want to get a feel for it and be a part of it."