Posts Tagged ‘Sussex Cyclists’

Ride of Silence speaks volumes

May 14, 2010

If you ride a bike you should consider taking part in the sixth annual Ride of Silence. The local event, with help from Sussex Cyclists, takes place Wednesday, May 19, at 7 p.m. Cyclists should meet at Tile Market off Dartmouth Drive behind the Lewes Wawa on Route 1. We ride for about an hour on an escorted ride to the canal bridge in Rehoboth beach and back.

There is no talking, and the speed is kept at 12 mph or below.

Chris Phalen organized the first ride in Dallas in 2003 after a passing bus mirror on an empty road killed his friend, endurance cyclist Larry Schwartz. It was designed to be a one-time event, but has grown to become an international one.

Last year there were more than 300 rides covering all 50 states and 18 countries ­ – even one in Antarctica.

By taking part in the ride, cyclists are hoping to raise awareness that cyclists share the road, to honor those who have been injured and memorialize those who have perished on roads around the world.

The website, rideofsilence.org, contains a sobering section with names of those who have been killed by motorists. The list contains thousands of names from places across the globe. As a rider, it makes me stop and think.

Road riding in the Cape Region is a challenge because of never-ending traffic. Once you get out into the countryside west of Lewes and Rehoboth Beach, it’s another world, but getting there can be an adventure. It’s never fun crossing Route 1.

One of the things I miss from the western side of the county is the lack of traffic. From my former house in Seaford I could be on back roads within a minute and never see a car for an hour.

On the eastern side you have to keep your wits about you at all times and stay as far to the right as possible.

“Tonight we number many but ride as one

In honor of those not with us, friends, mothers, fathers, sisters and sons

With helmets on tight and heads down low,

We ride in silence, cautious and slow.”

– From the Ride of Silence prayer

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Scary: My annual Route 1 ride

July 16, 2009

If I were king of the world, I would do away with the bike lane on Route 1.

In its place I would construct an actual bike lane – not one with gravel as its base – away from traffic so bicyclists and pedestrians could safely get from one point to another in the Lewes, Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach areas.

As an avid cyclist, I do everything in my power to stay off Route 1 as much as possible. It’s not safe – bottom line.

Although the lane is well marked, nice and smooth and wide, it is also a bus lane and a turning lane.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Junction-Breakwater Trail. It is a viable route from Lewes to Rehoboth Beach for those who are riding fat-tire bikes, not those riding road bikes.

The trail is heavily used and has probably saved lives by taking people off Route 1.

Yet, any given hour on any given day you can find bicyclists riding along the highway. Most ride without helmets.

Thank God for Sussex Cyclists and DelDOT for providing summer safety checkpoints to alert those riders to the rules of the road. Once again, their efforts have saved lives.

Each year I take a ride from Lewes to Rehoboth Beach along Route 1 to access the situation. My annual ride this summer was Wednesday, July 15, between 6:30 and 8 p.m.

Although I consider myself an experienced rider with tens of thousands of miles under my belt, it was a scary experience. I’m also not a timid rider and am not the least afraid of riding in traffic.

On at least four occasions, motorists turned off right in front of me instead of waiting for me to cross the turnoff.

To be perfectly honest I don’t know how some of the bicyclists I see riding along Route 1, without helmets and wearing IPods, get from Point A to Point B in one piece.

Even DelDOT officials warn people to stay off Route 1 as much as possible.

So what is my assessment for 2009?

Route 1 is still not a safe place for anything without a motor, and the jury is even out on just how safe it is for motor traffic.