About 100 people participated in the Akron Ride of Silence last night, one of hundreds of similar events happening around the world to honor cyclists killed on public roadways.
The sound of spokes was the only noise during the low-speed, 7-mile route that wound through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
The participants here were remembering Jim Lambert and Matt Billings, both killed in a collision with a pickup truck in 2015.
Both men were with the Akron Bicycle Club, and fellow member Sue Serdinak from Richfield was at the event last night.
“I was biking with Matt the night before the fatal accident and talked to him in the parking lot afterwards. We talked about how much he was enjoying biking, and he had a new baby and had taken time off. But he was a good example of staying in shape.”
Mike Gessner from Akron knew both Jim Lambert and Matt Billings, and says they were strong cyclists.
“You know when somebody’s good, they’re at the pack, they’re leading, they’re pulling, they’re not giving way. And you scratch your head and say, ‘How are they doing that?’ And I later learned that he was part of the U.S. Cycling Team – Jim. So that was very impressive.”
Stacy Rhea from Stow agrees, saying it takes passion to achieve that level of performance as a cyclist. And, she says, it takes an awareness of your surroundings.
“I, personally, no longer ride by myself on the road. I always try to have somebody with me. Just to be on the safe side.”
Rhea was one of many people at the event who is encouraged about the future of bike safety in Ohio thanks to the “3-foot law” that took effect in March. It sets a specific buffer zone for automobiles that want to pass bicycles, plus a $150 fine for violating the law.