May 15, 2008
 

Deputies from the Pima County Sheriff's Department motorcycle unit led the procession of bicyclists during last year's Ride of Silence. This year's ride will begin at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

 

Ride of Silence for bike safety

 Everyone is invited to the Santa Cruz Valley event, which also is a memorial for slain cyclists
By Danielle Sottosanti

 


Bicyclists of varying skills and interests will band together on Wednesday and ride through parts of Green Valley and Sahuarita as part of international and local efforts to make it safer to ride.  They will ride in a silent, single-file procession as part of the 2008 Santa Cruz Valley Area Ride of Silence, an event meant to both raise drivers' awareness of bicyclists and honor bicyclists who have been killed or injured while riding.

The Sahuarita and Green Valley area has been safe for bicyclists this year, law-enforcement records show. Neither the Sahuarita Police Department nor the Pima County Sheriff's Department's Green Valley District Office has recorded any bicycle accidents involving motorists so far this year.  Sahuarita police Officer Sam Almodova attributes the lack of accidents to several factors.  For the most part, bicyclists in the area ride in neighborhoods or along large, wide roads such as South La Cañada Drive, said Almodova, a police   spokesman.  Another factor: People are obeying the law.  The Sahuarita Police Department enforces the same bike-safety laws that other local law-enforcement agencies do. Drivers must follow state laws about not driving too close to a bicyclist, and bicyclists should not ride in the center of the street or ride two abreast, Almodova said.

For more information on what to do and what not to do while riding, bicyclists can go to free bike-safety classes offered by the Pima County Bicycle & Pedestrian Program. A class schedule is available online at www.bikeped.pima.gov, or call 243-2453.  And the town of Sahuarita is working toward keeping bicyclists safe, too.

The town is increasing the quality and quantity of its multipurpose lanes — lanes that run along roadways and can be used for bicycle riding.  Sahuarita resurfaced West Pima Mine Road from South Nogales Highway to the town's western boundary and added a multipurpose lane, its December 2007 newsletter said. The work was part of the town's capital-improvement plan.  That newsletter also detailed three other improvement projects that included adding or enhancing multipurpose lanes along Sahuarita roadways.  The improvements go along with the town's general plan, which deals with promoting different modes of transportation, said Barbara Dolan, town spokeswoman.


 

Bicyclists Bill Adamson, left, and Jim Jordan join Lt. L.T. Pratt to plan the route for the Ride of Silence through Green Valley and Sahuarita.

 

 

 

Damian Leuck, shown here working at his Green Valley Bike & Hike shop, will offer free
bike check-ups before the ride at the starting poin
t.


The town is fantastic for bicyclists, as is Green Valley, said John Pilger, president of the Santa Cruz Valley Bicycle Advocate Committee, a grass-roots organization that works with local governments to promote safe bicycling.  "Everything they're doing now is biking-oriented," he said.  The committee advocates for multipurpose lanes in its master plan and includes Sahuarita's La Cañada improvements, along with other projects it pushed for from 2004 to 2007.

The committee organizes an annual Ride of Silence for its area.  The first Ride of Silence took place in Dallas in 2003, drawing 1,000 riders, according to the Ride of Silence Web site, www.rideofsilence.org.  From there, it has spread across the United States and internationally. There are 206 confirmed Rides of Silence scheduled to take place worldwide in 2008, the Web site said.

In Southern Arizona, Rides of Silence are scheduled for Wednesday in Tucson, SaddleBrooke and the Santa Cruz Valley area. Tucson's ride will start at 6 p.m. at Sears Park, 5900 E. 14th St. More information on any of those rides is online at www. rideofsilence.org.
It will be the third annual ride for the Santa Cruz Valley area, committee webmaster Chuck Hill said.

About 50 people took part in last year's ride, and the committee is hoping for many more bicyclists this year, Hill said.  Anyone interested in joining in the ride just needs to show up at the starting point — the parking lot at Green Valley Recreation's East Social Center, 7 S. Abrego Drive. There are no fees or registration, Hill said.

Bicyclists participating in the area's Ride of Silence will leave from the Green Valley center together at 6 p.m., ride on a seven-mile route through parts of Green Valley and Sahuarita, and end at the starting point.  But bicyclists can arrive as early as 5:30 p.m. to socialize and enjoy free refreshments — fruits, juice and water — provided by Green Valley Bike & Hike, a shop at 125 Calle de Las Tiendas.
Shop owner Damian Leuck will have a bicycle-repair stand set up in the parking lot and will conduct free bike-safety checks before the ride.

Leuck, who is an avid bicyclist, explained why he so strongly supports the Ride of Silence.  "I lost a lot of friends due to bicyclist death in traffic," he said.  Green Valley Bike & Hike promotes bicyclist safety throughout the year by offering free safety checks. People can bring their bikes in anytime — no appointment is necessary — and Leuck will check things such as wheel alignment and the brakes to make sure there are no safety issues.  The shop doesn't charge for air and lubrication, Leuck said, but it does charge for other maintenance work. Green Valley Bike & Hike is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. For more information, call 393-7433.

Contact reporter Danielle Sottosanti at 618-1922 or at dsottosanti@azstarnet.com.