16th annual “Ride of Silence” held in Radford

Published: May. 18, 2023 at 12:03 AM EDT
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RADFORD, Va. (WDBJ) - Cyclists across the New River Valley pedaled their way almost seven miles through Radford for the 16th annual “Ride of Silence” Wednesday night.

“It’s one of the most powerful parts of the whole thing, because all you hear is is the wheels whirling and you can hear some toe clips and otherwise it’s quiet. And it’s very powerful and a lot of us spend a lot of the route kind of teary-eyed,” said Laurie Buchwald, with Pathways for Radford.

The silent ride is a time to honor and remember all cyclists who have been hurt or killed on public roadways.

“My second year of bike commuting, I was hit on my way to work, I broke my ankle. That was really life-changing to me as a bike commuter. I became involved with cycling advocacy at that point. And since then, I’ve unfortunately known many people who have been injured, and a few people who have lost their lives to accidents with drivers,” said Jenn Million, with the New River Valley Bicycle Association.

One of those killed was Dr. Fess Green on April 29, 2008. Green was a beloved member of the Radford community.

“I don’t know if any of us knew about this tradition before our friend, member of Pathways for Radford, was killed while cycling home. That was just really, really quite awful for us here in this community and it was a way for us to feel like we were doing something to honor and remember him,” said Buchwald.

It’s also a time to bring more awareness to cycling safety.

“Just the other day, a 20-year-old was killed on his bicycle in Campbell County. And we need people to be aware that this can happen and the more people we get involved in this effort, the more we’re going to be able to educate people,” said Buchwald.

“I think it also adds some optics and visibility to cycling for drivers. They get to see us present on the road and learn what it’s like to share the roadway with us. And maybe that makes them more mindful and more careful when they’re driving as well,” said Million.

Organizers feel that more infrastructure and development will be vital to biker safety moving forward.

“Once it gets developed, once it gets built, people are all all over it and we just need to keep pushing forward,” said Buchwald.

“I think one major thing that will be beneficial is when we can start to coexist with some of these or connect some of these already existing trail systems, such as the valley-to-valley connection that we’re working on between Blacksburg to Roanoke,” said Million.

Though the ride was silent, it spoke volumes to how important it is to the community that cyclists everywhere can be safe while sharing the road with all modes of transportation.