HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — About three dozen cyclists rode from Camp Hill to the State Capitol in Harrisburg Wednesday evening, without saying a word.
“Its a memorial funeral ride, in a sense,” said Ross Willard, the ride organizer. “And we will not speak while we ride.”
The pack of cyclists made up of several Harrisburg area clubs was the largest group ever to participate in the international Ride of Silence. The effort aims to honor cyclists from a particular region, in this case, the state of Pennsylvania, and spread safety awareness. As the group peddled off from a parking lot in Camp Hill, countless others just like them around the United States and elsewhere were doing the same.
“I’ve fallen down myself many a time,” said Nripin Babu, a cyclist from Enola. “But I’ve never had a situation where someone really knocked me down. But it’s happened to a lot of people that I know.”
Other cyclists, like Heather Sharper of Harrisburg, say close calls with motor vehicles happen far too often.
“Definitely riders riding too close. Or sometimes they’ll just like, over-anticipate where I’m going and they’ll definitely cut me off or something like that,” she adds.
At the conclusion of the ride, cyclists gathered in front of the state Capitol, where 15 white-painted “ghost bikes” adorned the steps. The bikes represent each person killed while riding a bike in Pennsylvania in 2015. According to Willard, specific information, including names of victims and locations of the incidents are not released to protect family privacy.
“With helmets on tight, and heads down low. We ride in silence, cautious and slow,” said Willard, reading from a poem before the group. “To those not with us, or by our side. May God be your partner, on your final ride.”
In addition to lighting LED candles at the base of each ghost bike, an additional bike was ceremoniously added in honor of an unidentified 15-year-old boy who was killed while riding his bike in Franklin County on Tuesday evening.
The Ride of Silence takes place annually on every third Wednesday in May.