published Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Ride of Silence


by Chris Carroll

Minya James doesn't want anyone to die the way David Meek did.

An exuberant man well known among cyclists, Mr. Meek, 51, was biking to work in March 2009 when a large truck traveling on his left snagged his saddle bag. He was thrown from his bike and fatally injured.

Mr. Meek's friends gathered to honor his memory Wednesday evening.

Under a clear sky, Ms. James joined about 200 riders for Chattanooga's second annual Ride of Silence, which honors all cyclists who have been killed or injured while riding on public roads. Cyclists stayed quiet while pedaling through 12 miles of downtown Chattanooga.

"A fabulous guy," Ms. James said of Mr. Meek. "He would be really happy to see folks aren't intimidated to use the road. We're still here, and we want to do it."

  • photo
    Staff Photo by Angela Lewis/Chattanooga Times Free Press Participants in the Ride of Silence ride leave the Finley Stadium parking lot Wednesday evening to embark a 12-mile ride in honor of cyclists who have been killed or injured while cycling.

Before Mr. Meek's death, Chattanooga did not participate in the international Ride of Silence event. Organized groups cycle on public roads in 22 nations on seven continents. All 50 states held a ride Wednesday.

Fronted by a police escort, Chattanooga cyclists rode from Finley Stadium through St. Elmo and other downtown neighborhoods before ending up at the stadium near Main Street. Chattanooga police blocked intersections for the cyclists.

At least one rider shrugged off a chronic medical condition to pay tribute and promote awareness. Sandra Reed, who battles carpal tunnel syndrome in her hands, rode an oversized tricycle she calls her "go-kart."

"Drivers need to be respectful, just like we're respectful of the cars," she said.

Asked about Mr. Meek, many participants nodded in solemn remembrance, but they said the event also needs to be seen as a wake-up call to motorists.

"We have the same rights as they do," said Jackie Whitlock, a cyclist from Chickamauga, Ga.

He added that Mr. Meek's death was not in vain.

"He would hate that death and injuries made this happen, but I'm sure he would be glad the attention's here," Mr. Whitlock said.

Ms. James had a simple statement for those who might be reluctant to ride because of safety concerns.

"Know that you belong," she said.

Continue reading by following these links to related stories:

Article: Chattanooga among U.S.'s most bike-friendly

Article: Meek’s death touches bicycling community

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legend_XIX said...

Although a nice gesture, hopefully in the future better routes will be found for such events, especially during what's the busiest part of the day and on a weekday to boot. Rush hour traffic was backed up on South Broad street. Also, with police claiming to be short on manpower and funds maybe these events can hire a private rider escort service company or off duty police and pay them themselves in the future instead of tying up city time and city police officers.

May 20, 2010 at 6:10 p.m.
Emt1cat said...

I didn't realize shortly after 7 pm is "what's the busiest part of the day"!! I thought from the traffic I go through, it is some time around 5-5:30. This event takes place on a weekday because it's a worldwide event that is set to take place at that time. Maybe the person who started it should have thought to schedule it for a weekend but as we all know, there would certainly be SOMEONE who would gripe about that, too!!!

Thank you to all of the police escorts. Each of you did a wonderful job and we really appreciate it. Thanks again!!

May 20, 2010 at 8:38 p.m.
voodoorada said...

legendXIX,

I think you've missed the whole point. Besides honoring fallen riders, the Ride of Silence is to raise awareness in the community that cyclists have a right to the roads, same as a motor vehicle. That's why the riders take up the whole lane.

Also there is no "rush hour" traffic in Chattanooga after 7 pm, and if the Police Dept is short on funds then it helped that they were paid for their services.

I'm not attacking, I'm just saying why you were inconvenienced. The fact that motorists don't want to be inconvenienced by cyclists are why so many are killed on the roads every year.

Get a bike, you'll get a new perspective.

The ride was nice. I met a lady who came out just to see us off...her son was killed by a motorist this past year and he was an aspiring racer; he was hit by someone on a flat, wide-open two lane road. There just aren't any excuses for that, it's really a tragedy.

A big thanks to the organizers, the Chattanooga PD, and the motorists that kindly pulled over as we went by. Chatt is becoming a more bike-friendly town, which will benefit everyone in the long run.

May 21, 2010 at 10:34 p.m.
harrystatel said...

Common sense dictates that "rights" are not written in stone, but consequences are. The consequence of riding a bicycle and pitting a 20 pound bike against a 2000 pound car means that bikes lose every time.

You may have your "rights" to ride a bike, but the consequences are all that matters.

What good are your "rights" if you're dead? Not all, but many of the fatalities are due to bicyclists believing in their "right" to be stupid. They were within their "rights", but now they're dead.

I've ridden bikes all my life. But I don't believe in my rights at the expense of common sense. That's why I'm still riding and still alive.

You have a "right" to walk through the projects tonight, alone, unarmed, waving hundred dollar bills in the air at 1:00am. Common sense dictates you don't, but feel free to exercise your "rights."

We'll read your obituary in the morning.

May 21, 2010 at 11:43 p.m.
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