"The Ride of Silence is an international movement to take one day of the year and get groups across the world to ride for a purpose," said Flynn, a Cartersville resident and competitive cyclist and triathlete. "The purpose is to create awareness for bike safety, honor those who have been killed or injured while cycling on the roads, and support the Share the Road initiative.
"My personal reasoning for organizing the event includes my passion for competitive and recreational cycling and because my older brother was killed while riding his bike in September of 2009. Because of his death, my family and I have formed an informal awareness group called 'Team Flynn.' In an effort to find efforts to support, we found the Ride of Silence. Although I hope to have a few more riders than last year, the 2011 Cartersville event will be very similar in terms of starting point, riding pace, path, [et cetera]."
To participate in Wednesday's free event, cyclists are encouraged to meet at Dellinger Park -- 100 Pine Grove Road -- about 6 p.m., before departing at 7 p.m. Accompanied by a police escort, the participants' nearly 8-mile trek will utilize the following roads before winding back to Dellinger Park -- Etowah Drive, Old Mill Road, South Erwin Street, West Avenue, South Tennessee Street, East Main Street, North Bartow Street, West Cherokee Avenue, Mission Road S.W., Burnt Hickory Road, Douthit Ferry Road, Walnut Grove Road S.E. and Pine Grove Road. During the event, Flynn said, the cyclists -- who must wear helmets -- will travel about 8 to 10 mph.
According to www.rideofsilence.org, "On May 18, 2011, at 7 p.m., the Ride of Silence will begin in North America and roll across the globe. Cyclists will take to the roads in a silent procession to honor cyclists who have been killed or injured while cycling on public roadways. Although cyclists have a legal right to share the road with motorists, the motoring public often isn't aware of these rights, and sometimes not aware of the cyclists themselves.
"In 2003, Chris Phelan organized the first Ride of Silence in Dallas after endurance cyclist Larry Schwartz was hit by the mirror of a passing bus and was killed. The Ride of Silence is a free ride that asks its cyclists to ride no faster than 12 mph and remain silent during the ride. There are no sponsors and no registration fees. The ride, which is held during National Bike Month, aims to raise the awareness of motorists, police and city officials that cyclists have a legal right to the public roadways. The ride is also a chance to show respect for those who have been killed or injured."
While cyclists are not required to preregister for the local event, they are urged to visit the ride's Facebook page and sign up by searching "Ride of Silence-Cartersville, GA."
"Ultimately, what I want to get out [of] organizing this ride is to make roads safer for cyclists," said Flynn, an instructor of physical education at Georgia Highlands College. "In the long run, I think more signs related to 'sharing the road,' signs marking a road or pathway as a commonly used bike route, possible educational segments in drivers education classes, potential insurance breaks for those who complete those educational segments, enforcement of the law related to safe passing distances, and a healthy respect from motorists to cyclists as citizens who rightfully belong and use the road [would help]. Most competitive cyclists -- like myself -- have roads they ride on a frequent basis as I would expect to be the case for commuters. Much clearer markings of those roads as bike paths would help 'acclimate' motorists that riders may be just around the corner.
"For the motorist passing the cyclists, I would say, 'Pass with caution. Slow down, move over and don't honk your horn at the cyclist [or cyclists]. If another car is coming in the opposite direction, simply wait. Don't pass so close that the cyclist gets pushed off the road or make it so that you can cause a possible head on collision with the oncoming motorist.' The few seconds gained by making a dangerous pass aren't worth either of the lives involved in that situation. I would also say to cyclists that, 'Sharing the road is a two-way street.' Running red lights, pulling to the front of cars stopped at a traffic light, blowing through stop signs, and taking up half the road don't help our cause. Instead, it ignites tempers and frustrates motorists."