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Cyclists’ Ride of Silence on Wed From Nyack to Piermont

Merrill Cassel Ghost Bike 201207

Ghost Bike Memorial for cycling advocate Merrill Cassell, dedicated on what would have been his 67th birthday. Cassell was run over by a Bee-line bus in Nov 2009. The NYS Safe Distance (aka 3 foot law) was named “Merrill’s Law” in his honor. Photo Credit: East Coast Greenway via flickr

This event has been postponed until Tues May 21 due to predicted thunderstorms on Wed May 15 at 630p

Nyack, May 15 — In 2011, 677 people died in the US from a bicycle accident involving a car. Ten years ago, one man’s death after being hit by a school bus while riding his bike inspired the first Ride Of Silence to honor cyclists who lost their lives after being hit by cars. The Rockland Bicycle Club will join cyclists throughout the country today with a 6:30p Ride of Silence from Nyack to Piermont. It’s also a tribute to Rockland County resident Janet Martinez who was struck and killed by a car while riding on 9W near the the South Nyack/Upper Grandview  border last June.

On May 15 at 6:30p, the Rockland Bicycling Club (RBC) will ride silently in the 11th annual Ride Of Silence to raise awareness of bike safety issues on local roads.  The route will start at Upper Nyack Elementary School and travel south on Broadway, moving east to Piermont Ave/ River Road after passing the South Nyack Village Hall. Participants will wear either a red or black armband to honor someone who has been injured by a motorist. A black armband means the rider is mourning a cyclist who was fatally injured.

Since the first Ride Of Silence following the death of Plano Texas Bike enthusiast Larry Schwartz in 2003, several thousand rides have been held to honor the thousands of cyclists that have been killed or injured by cars that drove too fast or too close to cyclists. Last year, 320 separate Ride of Silence events were held on seven continents.

Cyclist Janet Martinez

Cyclist Janet Martinez was fatally injured while riding her bicycle on 9W in June, 2012

In June 2012, Janet Martinez a recreational cyclist form Pomona, NY, drove to Rockland Lake and parked her car to enjoy a casual Sunday ride around the park. She decided to the extend her ride by cycling south on NYS Bike Route 9. Within a few miles of her starting point, Martinez was rear-ended by a motorist traveling at 50 mph on NYS Route 9W.

Previously, the RBC has held Rides of Silence to honor the memories of Rockland residents Robert Carl Pinckert and Ennio Spiri. Pinckert, a cyclist from Upper Nyack, died after being fatally struck by a tractor trailer on Rt 303 in June, 2003. Spiri, who lived in Valley Cottage, died from injuries after being hit by a car in September, 2004.

The first Ride of Silence was held in May 2003. Friends of Larry Schwartz, led by cyclist Chris Phelan, decided to honor his memory with a silent ride of cyclists. The first 2003 ride attracted 1000 riders cycling silently at 12 mph around White Rock Lake in Dallas, TX. Thousands of cyclists participate in Rides of Silence during May, National Bike Month.

There are 21 states that require motorists to provide three or more feet of space when passing a cyclist. New York’s safe passing law is called “Merrill’s Law” in memory of area resident Merrill Cassell, who was killed when he was struck in Tarrytown. Although the law was enacted in 2010 it has never been enforced.

See also:

Ghost Bike Photo Credit: East Coast Greenway via flickr

Nyack People & Places, a weekly series that features photos and profiles of citizens and scenes near Nyack, NY, is sponsored by Sun River Health.

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