An evening bike ride in Chattanooga was meant to pay homage to a cyclist who lost his life on the road and to raise awareness so another death won't happen here.
More than 100 cyclists pedaled Wednesday evening through Chattanooga as part of a worldwide Ride of Silence meant to honor cyclists killed or injured on their bicycles. David Meek, 51, was killed March 6 while biking to work. He was an outspoken bike-to-work advocate.
"This is the first time we've done this in Chattanooga, and it's all because of David," said Sydney Roberts, secretary of the Chattanooga Bike Club and the Ride of Silence organizer. "We want to put it into the heads of motorists that we are on the road, and that we want to share the road because we have just as much right to be there."
Participants said they wanted their slow 12-mile ride to stand as tribute to their friend, but also as a tool to spread awareness that they have a right to share the road with cars, trucks and SUVs.
"Unfortunately if you ride a bike, you are usually touched in some way by someone who has been injured by a vehicle," said Minya James, a recreation specialist with Outdoor Chattanooga, who said she had been struck by a car while cycling.
Cyclists rode from Finley Stadium on the city's southside to St. Elmo, up Georgia Avenue, across the Veterans Bridge, and back to the stadium along Market Street. Participants said they wanted to be visible and show motorists that they share the road with cyclists. Chattanooga police blocked intersections for the cyclists.
"There are probably fender benders every minute of every day," said Jim Farmer, a bike racer and Mr. Meek's friend. "It's not a big deal when you are both in a car, but a fender bender with someone on a bike can be fatal."
Chattanooga police said Mr. Meek was pulled from his bike and killed when a large truck was too close to him in traffic along Ashland Terrace. A grand jury declined to indict the truck driver.
The Ride of Silence was held worldwide at 7 p.m. Wednesday, noting injured and killed cyclists across the world. Every American state except North Dakota held a ride Thursday.