This week's Ride of Silence event has a deeply personal meaning for Kim Saks of Chandler: Her husband, Brett Steven Saks, was struck and killed by a motorist in 2008 while training for a charity bike event.
"Educating motorists about sharing the road with cyclists is my passion," said Saks, co-coordinator of this year's ride. "It is a cause that is close to my heart and I am thankful to all of the cyclists riding in his honor and others who have been killed or injured."
The Ride of Silence is a nationwide event being held in 260 locations across the United States and in 16 countries. Participating cyclists are asked to remain silent throughout the ride and not to exceed 11 mph.
The East Valley's 8th annual 11-mile Ride of Silence begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Mountain View Park, 845 N. Lindsay Road in Mesa, and ends at Freestone Park, 1045 Juniper Road in Gilbert. All ages are welcome.
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. Many drivers are also not aware that bicycles are legally required to ride in the street and not on sidewalks.
The latest statistics of cyclists killed by motorists in Arizona were not available, but more than a handful of them were killed in the last few years alone. Most recently, Christopher Volpe, a 24-year-old Arizona State University student, died Monday after he was struck by a motorist while riding his bike on University Drive near Ash Street in Tempe.
Cyclists often aren't seen before they are struck and killed by motorists as they pedal along city streets and desert roads.
Eric Hirning, 40, of Gilbert was T-boned by a car while riding his bike in San Diego several years ago. "The driver of the vehicle just didn't see me," he said, "and after I was hit, I wound up on the hood of the car."
Hirning, who is co-coordinating this year's Ride of Silence with Saks, said he also was recently "nudged" by a car while riding his bike in the East Valley.
"My best advice to bicyclists would be in order to be seen, be as bright as you can," said Hirning, who has been cycling for 16 years. "Expect the unexpected and try to be aware of your surroundings."