Clermont Ride of Silence honors cyclists hit by motorists

Photo from Ride of Silence Clermont Facebook page

Bicyclists can honor fellow cyclists who have been killed by motorists by participating in the annual global Ride of Silence.

The seventh annual Clermont Ride of Silence begins at 6:30pm Wednesday, May 16, at Waterfront Park, 100 3rd St. In addition to honoring fallen bicyclists, the ride also promotes sharing the road and provides awareness of bicycling safety during National Bike Month, a news release states.

The free ride will start with a memorial presentation for all riders who have been hit, injured, and/or killed by motorists. The memorial ride is a slow-paced (about 10 mph), eight-mile trek around Lake Minneola, and all riders remain silent for the duration of the ride. The Clermont Police Department Bike Unit will participate and assist with the ride, and Lake County sheriff’s deputies will escort riders.

Cyclists will meet at 6:30pm for instructions and signing posters; at 6:50pm, riders will line up along the edge of the South Lake Trail for photos and video; and at 7pm, the ride will begin, according to the event’s Facebook page. Cyclists of all ages and abilities, and in all types of bikes, are allowed to participate. Riders must wear helmets and follow the rules of the road. There are no registration fees.

The annual Ride of Silence is held the third Wednesday of each May. Last year’s ride was held in 390 locations in 22 countries and all 50 U.S. states, according to rideofsilence.org. Chris Phelan organized the first Ride of Silence in 2003 in Dallas after endurance cyclist Larry Schwartz was hit by the mirror of a passing bus and killed. Though cyclists have a legal right to share the road with motorists, the public often isn’t aware of these rights and sometimes not aware of the cyclists themselves, the website states.

The Ride of Silence hits home in Clermont. The ride starts and ends at Waterfront Park at a memorial bench that honors the memory of Harry Nickell, an active triathlete who also was a big part of the transformation of the park, a news release states. Harry, the fiancé of City Councilwoman Diane Travis, was killed in 2010 when he was hit by a motorist while participating in an organized bicycle ride.

The memorial ride aims to raise the awareness of motorists, police officers, and city officials that cyclists have a legal right to the public roadways. To see the laws involving bicycles on roadways in Florida, go to floridabicycle.org. This information is beneficial to motorists as well as cyclists.

For more information on the Clermont ride, contact police Sgt. Malcolm Draper at mdraper@clermontfl.org or 352.516.6972.

From left, City Councilwoman Diane Travis, Lacey Nickell, daughter of the late Harry Nickell, Sara McLarty, a Clermont triathlete whose father was a cyclist killed by a motorist, and Sara’s mother, Karen McLarty, pose at a bench honoring Harry Nickell, an avid cyclist who was hit and killed on a roadway. // Photo by city of Clermont

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