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."
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: