The Grand Rapids Ride of Silence. Wednesday, May 15, 2019.

A bagpiper plays in remembrance as riders stop around John Ball Park Circle.

A bagpiper plays in remembrance as riders stop around John Ball Park Circle.

The Ride of Silence is a yearly group bicycle ride, held simultaneously at hundreds of locations worldwide, to commemorate cyclists killed or injured while riding on public roads. It helps raise awareness among motorists, the public and decision makers of the dangers cyclists face on the roads, especially from traffic. Grand Rapids has hosted a Ride of Silence event every year since 2004, making this our 15th event.

The first Ride of Silence was organized by Chris Phelan and held in Dallas, Texas in 2003 after a cyclist was killed by a passing bus mirror on an empty road. Although the ride was conceived as a one-time event, it’s been repeated every year since. Cyclists in cities around the globe have joined this movement. It’s grown each year, with around 400 locations participating, most in the United States, but typically on all seven continents, including Antarctica. 

Please join the Grand Rapids Ride of Silence on Wednesday, May 15 as we ride a 6 mile slow procession in total silence to honor those killed or injured and raise awareness that we all share the road. We will start and end at 6th St. Bridge Park on Monroe NE and ask that you arrive by 6:30pm for signup, riders meeting and to hear a few words about how you can make your next ride safer. Scheduled speakers include Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalyn Bliss and Rev. Christopher Roe from Fountain Street Church. The ride leaves at 7, it’s a free event, participants must wear helmets and lights are encouraged. The Grand Rapids Police Department and the Rapid Wheelmen Bicycle Club will help get us safely through traffic. A brief stop for a commemorative bagpiper is planned at John Ball Park circle before we return.

We’ll have post-ride gathering at Creston Brewery where a percentage of proceeds will be donated. You can help make Grand Rapids an even better place to ride a bike.

Mayor Bliss reads a proclamation as Commissioner Kelly and crowd listen.

Mayor Bliss reads a proclamation as Commissioner Kelly and crowd listen.

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PedalGR Rides Again.

Tacos? Did somebody say tacos? A  PedalGR Taco Ride.

Tacos? Did somebody say tacos? A PedalGR Taco Ride.

For 11 years now, Joshua Duggan has hosted a bi-weekly bicycle ride during the summer called PedalGR. It’s an easy, conversation paced social ride that meanders through unique and unusual places in and around Grand Rapids. Typically 12-17 miles, it’s a no-drop ride that starts and ends at Founders Brewery. Destinations en-route have included inner city gardens, City and County Parks, Blandford Nature Center, farms/orchards, ice cream stands, taquerias and last year even a memorable tour of the Grand Rapids Wastewater Treatment Plant. Little known pathways and iconic landmarks are sprinkled in wherever possible. It’s fun, you meet people and learn things about our city as well as a bit of bicycling knowledge. PedalGR is a ride of the Rapid Wheelmen Bicycle Club but membership is not required to participate. Helmets however are required and lights are encouraged as some rides go just beyond twilight. PedalGR rides follow all traffic laws and encourage riders to ride safely. Maybe the best part, it always ends at Founders Brewery for hydration, food and friendship. Some of the riders have been riding along since the ride was started 11 years ago.

The first ride of this season is already planned for Wednesday, April 24. The rides happen every other Wednesday throughout the summer and leave Founders at 6:30pm for a couple hours riding. To find out more, you can like PedalGR on Facebook or visit pedalgr.com, and get a brief preview of each ride beforehand. Nobody gets left behind, they’re free, friendly and fun to ride.

Riding to and through the Grand Rapids Bike Park on the SW side.

Riding to and through the Grand Rapids Bike Park on the SW side.

A Versluis Farms visit in August usually includes a few sample tastings.

A Versluis Farms visit in August usually includes a few sample tastings.







Grand Rapids 5 Foot Passing Ordinance - Reminder.

Radar measuring equipment and video recorder used to document passing motorists.

Radar measuring equipment and video recorder used to document passing motorists.

In 2015 Grand Rapids passed a city ordinance requiring motorists to leave a minimum of 5 feet between cars and cyclists when cars pass on streets. In years since, it’s been accompanied by media programs to inform the public, using billboards, city bus graphics, social networks and news media. Motorists and cyclists have both benefitted from those programs. Good stuff and a great city.

In the spring of 2018, a study was initiated to measure passing clearances between cars and bicycles so results of the latest media program might be evaluated. 6 riders were part of the study and they used distance measuring radar on their bicycles as they rode city streets in all 3 wards. Findings of the study were regularly published on signs around town and noted anywhere from 69-83% compliance with the 5 foot passing distance by motorists. The study period ran from June 2018 through January 2019.

During nearly the same time as the study, the Grand Rapids Police Department used their own riders and assisting officers in police cruisers to measure and begin enforcement of passing clearances. They pulled over 146 motorists and issued warnings about the new ordinance. 3 motorists were ticketed when the officers sensed it was appropriate for the situation. On several occasions the GRPD actually pulled motorists over by catching up to them on bicycles. That’s an interesting concept.

All in all, last years media program and study results were interpreted as positive for cyclist-motorist interactions. During 2018, car-bicycle accidents were the lowest since 2008 and we had zero fatalities of cyclists in the city. So if you’re in a car, here’s a reminder to please leave 5 feet minimum clearance when passing cyclists. If you’re on a bike, please obey traffic laws like motorists and be careful out there. If we all do that, maybe we can get even better results this year.

Test equipment in use. Police use a similar setup.

Test equipment in use. Police use a similar setup.