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Cyclists gather to remember those lost or injured in biking accidents

Posted at 10:52 PM, May 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-19 05:25:13-04

NAPLES, Fla. — On Wednesday night, over 50 cyclists gathered at Cambier Park in Naples for the 20th annual Ride Of Silence.

In 2003, Chris Phelan organized the first Ride of Silence in Dallas after endurance cyclist Larry Schwartz was hit by the mirror of a passing bus and was killed. The Ride of Silence is held during National Bike Month and is now known globally.

Many of the riders at the Wednesday night's event were survivors but were also riding in memoriam.

"Last year I lost my friend, I was in the accident with her," Cristin Madden said.

As Madden's voice cracked and she fought back tears. "I couldn’t ride last year, but I went to another Fort Myers ride of silence event and spoke to the crowd, Deborah had just been killed in March and that was in May," and a year later Madden is riding again.

As the riders gathered at the park, many shared horror stories, "Some of us who had been in an accident, near misses and remembering those we've lost," Michelle Avola Brown, Executive Director of the Naples Pathway Coalition said.

Brown too is a survivor of a biking accident and has been participating in the ride for over 15 years.

The most up-to-date data on the Florida Highway Patrol dashboard shows that in the state, more than 2,000 people have been injured on a bike since the beginning of the year, 64 of those resulted in deaths.

Ken Watson, a state trooper with the Florida Highway Patrol says as more people move to Florida, there's more opportunity for accidents because of the number of cars on the road and wants to remind people to be alert when driving.

"Put those devices down when operating your vehicle, have that good situational awareness," Watson said.

It's not just drivers who need to be safe, it's also those vulnerable users of the roadway who carry a responsibility as well.

"We’re always telling our cyclists, you don’t need to be on your phone, don’t have earbuds in, and for the love of God wear a helmet, it’s the only protection you have," Brown said.

All cyclists just want the same thing, "We just want to come home," both Brown and Madden said.