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Ride of Silence raises awareness about cycling safety

Locals take to the streets, representing cyclists hit by cars

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Posted: Thursday, May 17, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 7:03 am, Thu May 17, 2012.

As cars sped by on their way home from work or on their way to dinner, Carolyn Streng silently pedaled her bicycle on Hutchins Street near Kettleman Lane.

She was wearing a red arm band, and was near the end of about 50 bicyclists riding in a single-file line. Her silence and the band represented cyclists who have been injured or killed by motorists, including her own struggle to recover from being struck by a drunk and distracted driver.

"I've been a victim myself. I know what it's like to not feel safe on the road," she said.

Streng and the other bicyclists joined together as part of the national Ride of Silence. In cities around the country, bicyclists led a silent protest Wednesday to help raise awareness for cyclist rights and the need for motorists to share the road.

Lodi resident Robert Fuller and his wife Carolyn organized the first local event last year to honor her brother John Greaves, who was killed by a distracted driver in June 2009 while riding his bike in Contra Costa County to train for the Vineman Triathlon. Greaves, a Tokay High graduate, was 44 at the time and had a wife and two kids.

Robert Fuller is president of the Lodi Bicycle Club and a cycling coach for a youth team. He said it is important to find ways to inform motorists about the rights of bicyclists.

"It's just good to raise more awareness of cyclists on the road — for both the cars and the cyclists," Fuller said. "We need to be good road users and watch out for each other. The cars aren't going away, and the bicycles aren't going away, so they might as well get along."

The riders participated for free, but were required to wear helmets, obey all traffic laws and ride about 10 to 12 miles per hour.

The group gathered at Emerson Park to greet each other before the ride. They started to leave the park, abruptly ending all conversations. The only sound was the clicking as they clipped into their pedals.

The ride's other main goal, Fuller said, is to honor those who have been injured or killed.

"The cycling community is a very tight community, so everyone knows someone who has least been injured," Fuller said. "Being injured or even killed while you are doing your sport is a reality for us, so we try to honor those people."

For Streng, the ride is significant because she almost died after being struck by a distracted and drunk motorist on Memorial Day weekend in 2008.

While on Sutter Creek Volcano Road northeast of Jackson, a driver was arguing on his cellphone and driving 55 miles per hour. Streng was in the last mile of a training ride when the driver hit her, sending her over the windshield. She suffered 21 fractures that were spread out over all of her limbs, and was airlifted to a hospital.

"I had a lot of friends on the road. He could have hit anyone," Streng said.

She has had five surgeries, and it took her an entire year to recover. But on the exact day of her accident a year later, she got on her bike with friends and finished the final mile.

A participant in the Ride of Silence last year, Lynn Fields said she wanted to attend to remember those who have been hurt of killed.

Fields rides 360 miles each year from Santa Cruz to Malibu with Horizon Church to raise money for Mission 360, which helps orphans and families with HIV/AIDS in Africa.

She enjoys riding because of the camaraderie and the health benefits. Since she spends a lot of time on the road, she always does what she can to make herself safe.

"Awareness has increased. Parents need to be more responsible with kids and helmets," Fields said. "For drivers, they need to follow the rules of the road because it is common courtesy."

Contact reporter Maggie Creamer at maggiec@lodinews.com. Read her blog at www.lodinews.com/blogs/citybuzz.

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