BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The 21st annual Ride of Silence took place Wednesday night in many cities across the country, including Birmingham. The ride honors bicyclists who have been killed while riding on the road while also raising awareness of how to safely share the road.
Many people are familiar with bike lanes around the city but what are the rules on sharing the road with cyclists even when bike lanes aren’t available?
“The laws in Alabama are pretty simple,” says Lloyd Maisonville, president of the Birmingham Bike Club. “A motorist must give a cyclist three feet of clearance when passing and it’s up to the cyclist to stay to the right-hand side of the road.”
The Birmingham Bike Club says 70 bicyclists have been killed in the city in the last 16 years, nine alone last year. This doesn’t even begin to count the close encounters cyclists often experience or being run off the road.
“Your heart just goes into your throat, right? And you’re just like oh my gosh, why did that happen? There’s been several times while we’re riding that we’ll have drivers who will what we call ‘buzz’ us, so that means they come extremely close to us,” says Maisonville.
Many cyclists know someone who has been killed or seriously injured while riding.
“Whenever she gets around it, she still has PTSD from it but like I said, she still gets out, thankfully, she overcame that but her story — it was so terrible,” says Tory Moody about a fellow cyclist friend. “Her husband, both, laid up broken. Terrible.”
Even though there are dangers that come with riding on the roads, for many they say it’s still worth it.
“Even if you had a long day at work, I work at US Steel so grueling days sometimes, I get on a bike and all that wind just blows all that off,” says Moody. “That’s the great thing about riding, just get on a bike, takes all that stress away.”
Cyclists have simple messages for those they share the road with.
“We’re not your enemy,” says Moody. “You have three and up thousand-pound vehicles, you have motors, we are not your enemy. We’re trying to get out of your way but there’s some situations where we’re trying to figure it out just as much as you are.”
“Try to be patient. Try to follow the three-foot law,” says Maisonville.
The Birmingham Bike Club says while there have been great improvements around the city for riders, there are still areas that could be better.