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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Hernando Bicycle Club's Ride of Silence honors and raises awareness for all cyclists injured and killed

Hernando Bicycle Club’s Ride of Silence honors and raises awareness for all cyclists injured and killed
By:  Michael Lander

The 2015 Ride of Silence began in front of the
Hernando Courthouse.  It is the fifth such ride
that the Hernando Bicycle Club has hosted.
(Photo:  Courtesy of Bo McAninch)

Sometimes, there is nothing that is more powerful than the sound of silence.

Hernando Bicycle Club hosted their fifth Ride of Silence in and around their DeSoto County, northern Mississippi town of Hernando, Miss. on Wednesday, May 20, 2015.

The Ride of Silence is an eight mile, slow-paced ride in which cyclists take to the roads in a silent procession to show respect and to honor those who have been injured or killed while cycling on our public roadways. 

They are also done to raise awareness of the presence of cyclists and to remind everyone of the need to exercise caution, and to share the road with those who ride, because these cyclists could be any of our friends, neighbors, and even members of our own families.

The Ride of Silence travels in and around Hernando
on an eight mile trek and finishes up back in
Hernando, Miss.  (Photo: Courtesy of Bo

These rides, like the one in Hernando, take place in hundreds of locations around the world and they began in 2003 by Chris Phelan after an endurance cyclist,
Larry Schwartz, was struck by a bus and was killed.

“Some of us from Hernando rode in a Ride of Silence in
Memphis several years ago.  After that, a couple of years passed and no one organized another one in Memphis so we decided that, as a bike club, we should organize one ourselves, which we did,” Bo McAninch said.

McAninch is the co-founder of the Hernando Bicycle Club who helped start the club in 2007.

There were 36 cyclists who participated in
this year's Ride of Silence event in
Hernando, Miss.  (Photo:  Courtesy of
Bo McAninch)

“We are very proud to be a part of the Ride of Silence now and we feel it is our duty to do our part,” McAninch said.

There was a threat of bad weather on this year’s ride, but the skies cleared, the sun came out, and the conditions were ideal by the time that the ride started at 7 p.m.

“For this year’s ride we had 36 riders, including two Hernando Police Bike Patrol Officers, three patrol vehicles, and a sweep vehicle equipped with a bike rack in case someone couldn’t finish the ride,” McAninch said.

Because the ride is slow-paced and the route is only eight miles long, it is a ride that most people, even those who do not ride very often, are able to do.

The Ride of Silence is a slow-paced, eight mile ride
that honors those who have been injured or
killed while cycling.  (Photo:  Courtesy of
Bo McAninch)

“We met at the courthouse in Hernando, and after a few brief words by me and
Sgt. Steve Tow of the Hernando Police Dept., DeSoto County Supervisor, Mark Gardner started the ride by playing ‘Taps.’  We were then led out by the Hernando Police Dept.  We took an eight mile route that brought us around the biggest part of our town, and the last leg brought us right through the center and busiest part of it to give us the highest visibility,” McAninch said.

The visibility part of the ride is something that was especially important to Sgt. Steve Tow of the Hernando Police Dept.

“I really wanted people to stop and take notice when they saw this,” Tow said.

The cyclists in the Ride of Silence represent
those cyclists who can no longer ride and
who have been silenced for eternity.
(Photo:  Courtesy of Bo McAninch)

“This can be a very moving experience for those who participate and those who witness this and in many ways it is like a funeral procession that honors cyclists who have been hurt or who have died while riding.  There may be no better way to get people’s attention and to remind them to share the road than by doing this ride,” Tow added.

Over the last year, there have been three deaths in the Memphis and surrounding areas with one cyclist (
Ian Edward Gerrard) killed on U.S. Hwy 61 and Star Landing Rd in DeSoto County in Mississippi and two others (Zachary Walls and Eric Taylor) killed in Memphis in February and March 2015.

Several members of the Hernando Bicycle Club
led the way on this year's Ride of Silence.
(Photo:  Courtesy of Bo McAninch)

According to the most recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data, there were 726 fatalities of cyclists in the U.S. in 2012.  The average age of those injured, over the last 10 years, was 30 and the average age of those killed, over that same period of time, was 40.

The Ride of Silence, hosted by the Hernando Bicycle Club, is a poignant reminder of the dangers that cyclists continue to face on our nation’s roadways and those who participate in this event represent those who can no longer ride and who have been forever silenced.

For those interested in joining the Hernando Bicycle Club on this annual ride, or on some of their other rides, you can learn more about them on their
website and on their facebook page.  They have no membership fees and all are welcome to join them.

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