GV cyclists plan ride to remember

Sunday, May 12, 2013

By Kevin Duke


The 10th Anniversary Ride of Silence will hit the road in Green Valley on Wednesday, along with 317 other locations in the United States and around the world.

Local riders began the event eight years ago, when a Tucson mother of a killed cyclist informed them of the event.

“We were not aware of it until Jean Gorman tipped us off,” Chuck Hill of the Santa Cruz Valley Bicycle Advocates Committee (SCVBAC) said.  Gorman’s son Brad was killed on the Catalina Highway while training for the El Tour de Tucson.  “She has used that to take the initiative on bicycle safety,” Hill said. “She is pretty much solely responsible for the legislation passed for drivers to give riders three feet on the road.”

Solemn ride

The cyclists make their way through Green Valley with a police escort during last year’s Ride of Silence. This year’s ride is Wednesday.

John Weakly Photo

The free ride will be at a slow pace in absolute silence, with the purpose of “honoring those who have been injured or killed, raising awareness that we are here and asking that we all share the road.”  “People come out to honor their friends and other cyclists,” John Pilger, president of SCVBAC said. “It’s a different feeling when you get there and all these people are there to help remember.”  The event has grown locally from 25 riders eight years ago to an expected 100 or more for this year’s ride.  “Riders come from Green Valley, Sahuarita, Rancho Sahuarita, Quail Creek and Tubac,” Pilger said. “We’ve even had people come up from Nogales.”  “It’s amazing to see the people who show up that I don’t see the rest of the year."

The ride began in 2003 in Dallas, when Chris Phelan organized the first one to honor his friend Larry Schwartz, who was hit by the mirror of passing bus and killed.  Since then it has spread to all over the U.S. and over 20 countries.

Locally, there have been no accidents with cyclists in the past year.  “We’re very happy about that,” Hill said. “We’re finding that Green Valley drivers’ awareness has picked up substantially. I think a lot of it is because of the work we’ve done on the committee, the bike lanes and signs we’ve added have helped.”

“The courtesy that cars are showing cyclists is way up from where it was five or six years ago,” Pilger said. “There’s more and more people coming here as snowbirds to cycle and the more cyclists there are, the more visibility and the fewer incidents happen.”

Riders will have a full police escort for the duration of the 7-mile ride, which will proceed west on Esparanza, north on La Canada, east on Duval Mine Road and back south on Abrego.  Participants should arrive at the East Social Center at 5:30 p.m. with the ride beginning at 6 p.m.

The Green Valley Fire Department, the Pima County Sheriff’s Department and the Sheriffs’ Auxiliary Volunteers will help to escort the ride.  “The Sheriff’s Auxiliary has riders that patrol Green Valley, they’ll be riding as well as escorting,” Hill said. “We have a lot of escorts.”  The ride has pretty much remained the same in its eight years in Green Valley.  “We don’t really change anything because what we’ve done has worked so well,” Hill said.

Those interested in participating can go to www.scvbac.org for more information.