On May 18, 2016 at 7:00 PM, the 12th anniversary of the worldwide Ride of Silence took place in downtown Tampa. The ride is held during National Bike Month and is meant to “raise the awareness of motorists, police and city officials that cyclists have a legal right to the public roadways.” The ride began and ended at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and was led by officers from the Tampa Police Department.
People in the region who have lost loved ones or who simply want to advocate for safety and cyclists’ rights took to the streets to ride past the Tampa Police Department’s headquarters, three Hillsborough County Courthouses, and the County Center office building. Police officers began the ride with a safety presentation and Lucy Gonzales, representing Bike/Walk Tampa Bay, installed bike lights for riders who needed them. BWTB board member Craig Fox was also in attendance to ride in silence with the group.
Several “ghost bikes” were also acknowledged in remembrance on the route, bicycles that are painted white and placed at the site of fatal crashes to honor the lives of people we’ve lost.
The first line of the Ride of Silence poem reads:
“Tonight we number many but ride as one
in honor of those not with us, friends, mothers, fathers, sisters, sons.”
Not only does the event honor our fallen riders, it is meant to raise awareness and remind us that people on bikes have a legal right to share the road with people who choose to drive. Riders remain silent throughout the duration of the ride in respect for the dead, reminding us that sometimes we speak loudest when we take action.