Event coordinator Celeste Burr, an avid rider for 10 years, held the first Ride of Silence four years ago in honor of a friend’s brother who was paralyzed after being hit by a car in Washington.
“The Ride of Silence is a great way for people to come together and support each other and we often have people show up who have been hit or know someone who was hit and either survived or died,” she said.
“We also need to bring awareness to the fact that cyclists and motorists need to learn to share the road.”
This year’s eight-mile ride will be Wednesday, May 15, at 7 p.m. Riders of all ages will gather in the parking deck at 191 Lawrence St. near downtown Marietta at about 6:30 p.m. It’s free and open to the public.
“We ride with the slowest participant … no faster than 12 miles per hour,” Burr said. “No words are spoken. It’s very solemn, a very somber processional.”
Before the ride starts, participants will have the opportunity to say who they are riding for, and many wear red armbands in honor of someone who survived an accident or black armbands in memory of someone who was killed.
The route will stay within the city limits, be escorted by Marietta Police and travel past the accident scene off South Marietta Parkway where 25-year-old Joseph Gathambiri was hit last month by a man police believe was drunk.
Ghost bikes have been made in honor of Gathambiri and 55-year-old Lawrence Joseph Young, who was hit and killed along Powder Springs Street in March.
“The accident involving Joseph (Gathambiri) really struck home because it was right around the corner from where I live now and a route I’d take on my way to work,” Burr said.
Decatur resident Dave Matthews made the two ghost bikes.
“They are totally white bikes that are usually donated by some of the Bike Friendly Atlanta followers,” he said.
Matthews stripped down the bikes, removed the cables, breaks and chains, and cleaned and painted them all white with “Rest In Peace” signs.
He has been making ghost bikes for about a year now. The first one he made was in honor of Paul Taylor, who was hit and killed April 30, 2012. Taylor’s ghost bike is the one that Matthews was hit on.
Burr said they won’t be able to place Gathambiri’s bike in the location where he was killed because it’s located on a state road, but they are hoping to set up Young’s after the ride.
One Marietta man who will be riding for the first time this year is 30-year-old Derek Caffe.
“I am really excited to be part of the silent ride, to get out there and show my support,” he said.
Caffe, a health and wellness coach, began riding about two years ago to stay in shape and promote environmentally friendly modes of transportation.
He is also participating in the Ride of Silence to further encourage a mission with his profession.
“It was all about participating in activities that promote a culture of wellness and health,” he said. “I wanted to be involved in all sorts of activities to do that.”
Rider Jean Lindstedt of Mableton has participated in the last three rides in honor of Carrie Kane, a former fellow co-teacher at Sky View Elementary School.
“She was hit two years ago riding her bike on the way to school,” Lindstedt said. “It was a hit and run. … She did have injuries but did survive and is okay now.”
The 20-year bicyclist said she continues to participate in the Ride of Silence to show support for others who have lost their lives in accidents as well.
“It’s just a very neat ride because it’s silent and your thoughts are with them and their families,” she said. “It’s my hope that I can do anything to help drivers be able to share the road with bikers.”