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2023 Ride of Silence

Larry P Wasser | Published on 5/19/2023
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2023 Ride of Silence

By Zack Hoopes |

Almost exactly a year ago, Brandon Basom was the victim of a hit-and-run while riding his bicycle in Harrisburg, an incident that he said put him briefly in the hospital with broken ribs and lacerations that had to be stapled closed. The next month, he heard that a woman had been killed while on her bicycle after being hit by a van on Market Street in the city. A few days after that, he learned that the woman was his was his friend, Leyla Monroy.

“We do this every year,” Basom said of Wednesday’s Ride of Silence memorial event in Harrisburg. “But this year was the most personal.”Monroy was one of two cyclists killed in the city last year, along with Chantel Worley, who died in December when she was struck by a truck on Cameron Street.

A total of 15 cyclists were killed in crashes last year in Pennsylvania, according to PennDOT. On Wednesday evening, roughly 100 cyclists rode to the Capitol steps, where 15 white “ghost bikes” had been placed to commemorate those Pennsylvanians killed, along with a red bike representing those with serious injuries. The procession was part of the Ride of Silence movement, which was first held in Texas in 2003 and has since expanded to events around the world – all of which recognize cyclists killed in traffic and call for better bike safety.

The event has been held in Harrisburg for over a decade, according to organizers.“It doesn’t just take their lives, it takes their loved ones’ lives, too,” Patricia Worley, Chantel’s mother, said of the victims of bicycle collisions.“It was very moving just watching the bicycles come up the road,” Worley said of Wednesday’s event, an encouraging sign that so many in the Harrisburg region take the issue so seriously.“If her death is going to stand for anything, I hope it stands for change,” Worley said.PennDOT also hosted an event in York on Wednesday to promote bicycle safety, citing preliminary 2022 numbers showing the 15 deaths, out of 798 total crashes in Pennsylvania involving bicycles last year. This is down from 24 cyclist deaths in 2021, which was one of the deadliest years on record, according to PennDOT data:.

We’d like to keep that going lower until we reach Vision Zero,” said Ross Willard, one of the Harrisburg Ride of Silence organizers and the head of the nonprofit Recycle Bicycle. But Willard and many others involved with Wednesday’s event don’t want to be overly optimistic. Cyclist fatalities nationwide increased 11% last year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. CDC numbers crunched by the National Safety Council show total bicycle collision injuries decreasing 39% between 2011 and 2020 – but fatalities increasing a whopping 44% over the decade, suggesting that bicycle-involved crashes are becoming far more deadly even as total numbers decline.