Last night was an excellent night for the Ride of Silence. Warm, but not too warm, a nice breeze, great people and a great cause.
The whole evening began as I was leaving work to join Columbus Rides blogger Ray George at the Tip Top Kitchen, the primo downtown cyclist hangout. It was sort of neat to watch the cyclists slowly starting to filter into downtown, and taking up positions at the various eatin' establishments around the area. Cyclists are a good bunch, and I was soon enjoying a Rogue Chocolate Stout with Ray and a couple of other folks I knew from various forums, blogs, etc., including Hadley and Steave from the Yay Bikes forum, and Doug Morgan of the Two-Wheeling blog (who, if you followed my Twitter feed, you'd know that I just met this morning for the first time).
Ray and I headed down to the ride site at about 6:30 or so and immediately met up with Ken Huffman and his daughter who were ready to go on a tandem. We chatted for a while, and I met up with some other people I knew at the ride, including Tricia Kovacs, the orchestrator of Columbus's successful submission to the League of American Bicyclists and award as a bronze-level Bike Friendly City. Then, at 6:50 or so, Consider Biking's Jeff Stephens and Mayor Michael Coleman stepped up to say a few words. Jeff spoke a bit about why we were all there, and told us a bit about the Ride's origins in Dallas, and mentioning some of the people he knew who were no longer with us.
Mayor Coleman commented briefly on the hard work that has been done to make Columbus a bike-friendly city and commented on the recent award by the League of American Bicyclists. And then the ride began, with Stephens and the Mayor in the front.
It was a nice ride, with a slightly different route than past years. Instead of going all the way up High Street to Arcadia Rd. and then coming back on Summit, we first headed to the east and the Columbus College of Art and Design, swinging past Thurber House and then coming back to head up to Lane Ave, then back via Summit to 1st Ave. and back to High, eventually ending at City Hall. It was about a 9 mile ride, and at a very slow, leisurely pace.
And there were cyclists of all stripes there - roadies, singlespeeders, commuters, mountain bikers, messengers, recumbants, touring cyclists, at least one hand-crank bicyclist, the works. I got to see a few parts of Columbus that I'd not seen before, which is always nice. People along the route were taking pictures and movies of us, waving and smiling, clapping in some cases, and generally enjoying the procession. And we got to hand out a few fliers about the ride for onlookers who asked "what's this all about?" allowing us to spread the word a bit.
All in all, it was a great, relaxed, and thought-provoking ride. I think the more people have their awareness raised about the dangers that cars pose to cyclists the more they relax around us. In a way, it's too bad that we can't take the ride out into the suburbs, where I think people need to be enlightened a bit more due to the predominance of car culture out there as compared to the city, but all in good time!
Thanks to Consider Biking, Jeff Stephens, and everyone involved in setting up this ride.
For pictures of the ride, I'll have a few in a few days. I forgot to bring my digital camera with me to work that morning and so I had to buy a disposable camera, requiring me to actually get the film developed! What's that all about?
But Ray George's Columbus Rides has PLENTY of great shots of the ride, and I encourage you to view his slideshow on this year's great Ride of Silence!
People, not speed.