Bikers Honor the Fallen at Boise Bike Week Ride of Silence 

click to enlarge HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
In 2013, I covered the installation of a ghost bike for Victor Haskell, who died that September after being struck by a car on State Street in Boise. The whitewashed mountain bike, chained to a signpost, read "Watch 4 Cyclists / Victor Haskell / Rest in Peace." I'd known it would be gone when I revisited the site during the Boise Bike Week Ride of Silence on May 15, but its absence (due to age and wear) was still eerie.

For this year's Ride of Silence, some 30 people, including myself, rode quietly for 13 miles through Boise and Garden City, starting at Ann Morrison Park and visiting the sites of four bicyclist deaths, sometimes hearing from the families of the dead. Every stop and story was a call to action: for more driver awareness, better bicycle infrastructure and a greater effort on the part of law- and policymakers to make roads safe for all users.

The Ride of Silence is a national phenomenon, but in Boise, it holds a special place in the hearts of Boise Bike Week participants because of the popularity of biking in the City of Trees. There are few garages here that don't have a bike or two in them, and bikes figure heavily in how we play, run our errands and get to and from work. City Hall knows this, and this year's Ride of Silence was made safer and easier by road closures and an escort from the Boise Police Department's bicycle unit.

There's a lot of work left to do. The morning after the ride, the driver of an SUV, pulling out of an alleyway in the North End, failed to yield to me as I biked down Sixth Street. It was as though I were invisible, despite my bright-yellow raincoat. Close calls like that happen to me at least once a week, and they're reminders that while the rules on Boise streets may be different for cyclists than they are for cars—i.e. the Idaho Stop—there are ethics we all have to share: Be aware, be predictable and be responsible.
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