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Ride of Silence TODAY: Let the Silence ROAR – 295 rides world-wide and counting…


The 2010 RIde of Silence currently has an official 295 rides world-wide on all 7 continents in 22 countries and in all 50 of our United States.

Let the silence ROAR – Wednesday, May 19, 7 PM, 2010 – One day. One Time. World wide.

This year Auckland, New Zealand, officially leads the rollout of Rides of Silence around the world.

Since the first Ride of Silence in 2003, the Ride of Silence has grown to become an internationally organized annual cycling procession honoring those that have been injured or killed while cycling on public roadways. The goal is to raise awareness that we – ALL CYCLISTS – are here, and to ask that we all share the road. It is a free, slow-paced, silent ride of about 10 miles, to honor for those who cannot ride with us.

Participants are asked to wear black arm bands to show solidarity with victims and their loved ones, and red arm bands to signify a personal injury from a bike/motor vehicle accident. All participating cyclists are asked to wear a helmet.

On Tuesday, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (3rd District, Oregon) demanded attention to green development AND attention to bike fatalities(~2:30 into video) captured by CSPAN (May 18, 2010, YouTube video). This short video is truly inspirational, giving the efforts of the Ride of Silence effort the national level support from one of the biggest bicycling advocates we have in Washington, DC. Earlier this spring Congressman Bluenauer also wrote a very powerful endorsement calling this event the “National Ride of Silence”. This year each Ride of Silence location in the U.S. could read Earl’s endorsement before or after their Rides and thus give all participants much needed comfort and confidence in the direction of our government.

Sadly, however, we have more occasion to ride in silence as we memorialize the tragic cycling fatalities in the news that acomes from our neighbors to the north in Montreal, Canada, where in just the past few days they’ve experienced 2 horrible road tragedies claiming 4 bicyclists, 3 in one crash alone.

Let the Silence ROAR tonight at 7pm in communities around the world. If you cannot find a Ride of Silence near you (see Locations), please consider organizing one in your own community.

In Illinois, Governor Pat Quinn has issued a Proclamation declaring May 19, 2010, Ride of Silence Day!
Within the Chicago area, we have five confirmed communities hosting Rides of Silence: Chicago, Arlington Heights, Downers Grove, Evanston and Joliet.

One Day. One Time. Worldwide.

Two Items in the National News

A couple of news items caught my eye in the past few days…one is more of speculation, rather than hard news, but it is intriguing nevertheless:

1. Speculation that Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) might be chosen by President-elect Barack Obama to be the Secretary of Transportation. If you’re not familiar with Sen. Blumenauer, you should look him up — a dedicated proponent of bicycling, rail, walking and other non-automobile transportation modes. The speculation is quite thrilling…and I think Sen. Blumenauer would be a fantastic choice.
via Cycleicious (with links to other tidbits).

There’s even some further speculation that Congressman Jim Oberstar (D-MN), chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and a long-time champion of the bicycle, could also be in the running. Either one is perfectly fine for me!

2. “Democratic leaders in Congress urged the Bush administration on Saturday to consider using the $700 billion bailout for the financial system to aid distressed American automakers, in a prelude to what may become urgent negotiations over additional economic stimulus measures.” This is being reported in The New York Times. This push is backed by a letter signed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

REALLY?!? This is the best you can come up with, elected officials? I mean, I feel terrible that a bunch of autoworkers could lose their jobs, but it seems to me (and I freely admit that I am quite biased on this issue) that pouring money into the automotive industry is the LAST thing we should be doing right now. What do the rest of you think?

Book Review: “Pedal Power” by J. Harry Wray

Based on a recommendation from one of our readers (thanks, Mindy!), I just completed reading Pedal Power: The Quiet Rise of the Bicycle in American Public Life by J. Harry Wray (Boulder, Colo: Paradigm Publishers, 2008).

Pedal Power

I posted a passage that really resonated with me in a previous article…great food for thought.

This book is a socio-political overview of the many advocacy groups, politicians and assorted bike-friendly clubs throughout the United States who are making real differences in terms of supporting the creation and maintenance of bicycle infrastructure, championing cyclists’ rights to the roads and fostering a growing bicycle culture here. The author is a professor of political science at DePaul University in Chicago and is known for taking his students on bicycle rides throughout the city to instill in them a sense of “how politics, economics and the environment combine to affect culture and be affected by it” (Pedal Power: “About the Author”).

Wray begins by discussing the perceptional differences between motorists and bicycle users…how bicyclists tend to be more aware of their surroundings and thus more likely to notice changes and problems (and addressing them when discovered). Using a bicycle as transportation in any city fosters a sense of community — and encourages the use of undiscovered and underappreciated public spaces that are completely foreign to motorists who spend most of their traveling time in their air-conditioned “private bubbles”, insulated from the world around them. Much of that will come as no shock to those of you who are regular commuters; we tend to “see” our surroundings differently because we are out in it every day, sometimes off the beaten path and in places most motorists will never travel.

Wray talks about the needed cultural shift in our society in order to make bicycling seen as a more sensible transportation choice in American cities. With our growing interest in leaving consumer-based, wasteful lifestyles behind, many Americans are starting to wake up to a more “European Dream, with its emphasis on inclusivity, diversity, quality of life, sustainability, deep play, universal human rights and the rights of nature, and peace” (p. 78). The bicycle, suggests Wray,

“…is caught up in this culture storm. In some ways the dominant culture seeks to domesticate the bike by turning it into one more variant of commodity fetishism, but most of those in the bike movement see it differently. A decision to ride a bike is a very individualistic decision in our culture. But the bike deepens one’s sense of connection to others. It is also a statement about limits and sustainability. As it assimilates the bike, the culture also accomodates to it. Cultural change is necessary in order for the bike to be widely adopted as a transportation alternative. At the same time, however, increased use of the bike stimulates cultural change.”

The author then spends some time talking about the Mecca of bicycle-friendly cities: Amsterdam. He discusses how cycling became such a dominant transportation choice there (and it wasn’t always the case there…it is a fairly recent phenomenon in the grand scheme of things). He talks about what changes were made and how they were supported there to make bicycling such an incredible force.

Then, he spends a few chapters covering some of the well-known bicycle advocacy groups, both on the national level (League of American Bicyclists and the Thunderhead Alliance) and regional or city-based groups (Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, Bike Portland, and others). He also introduces the reader to a variety of national, state and local-level politicians who are making real changes in how bicycles are treated during transportation planning and implementation — all the heavy hitters such as Jim Oberstar of Minnesota, Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, Anne Paulsen of Massachusetts, and Mayor Jerry Abramson of Louisville, Kentucky (yes, Louisville…they’ve got it going on down there!), among others.

This is an incredibly enjoyable and powerful book; it is never dry or overwhelmingly academic as I first feared…and is one that I feel should be required reading for newly-elected politicians entering office. In order for bicycling to thrive as a real transportation alternative in American cities, we need more bike-riding politicians on our sides — working from the inside to help create more bike-friendly communities. The book also suggests that the many smaller advocacy groups could possibly be better served by joining forces with each other and massing their muscle to get things done. I heartily recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about how the bicycle is slowly changing the way Americans live their lives.

This book may or may not be available at your local public library — I had to borrow it through inter-library loan (thanks, Nova Southeastern University Libraries!), but had just enough pull with our book selectors at my library to order a copy for our collection. Power to the people!