Frequently Asked Questions regarding...
Planning A Ride of Silence
Do you need a Committee?
Yes and no. Numerous successful Rides have been pulled together by a single person; in a few weeks time frame. But the more time you have and support of other cyclists ensures an even more successful Ride.
Remember, the “Mother Ride, the original one in Dallas in 2003”, was accomplished in only 10 days, after a group of friends at Larry Schwartz’s funeral talked about having a memorial ride to honor him. One person started it, our founder and president, Chris Phelan, and via just word of mouth and emails, 1,000+ cyclists showed up.
Enlist your club members and friends to help out. There isn’t a great deal of logistics involved as you’re not tracking names of riders, (other than getting a final head count) not handing out rider packets, not collecting funds for the ride or jerseys, selling anything, or have food and rest stops to contend with. It can be as simple and elegant as possible or as elaborate as you feel you need to make it; as long as we don’t lose sight of what we are trying to accomplish.
local bike shops. Almost all are
willing to support the Ride in some form or other. Ask if they will
provide SAG support for the hour of your ride.
Plan Your Route:
1: Some locations plan their route for ease of starting location.
2: Some locations plan their route for high visibility.
3: Some locations plan their route to help keep riders together.
4: Some locations plan their route as part of an existing Wed. eve. ride.
5: Some, a combination of the above.
6: Typical distances are 8-12 miles. (20k) Some a bit shorter and longer.
7: Have it be as flat as possible. Remember, you’re hoping to draw persons who may not be hard-core cyclists, and haven’t been on a bike in years, but simply wish to honor a family member or friend they’ve lost.
In Grand Rapids, MI, we ride through the heart of downtown GR, for the most visibility. Detroit, MI, does also, circling Ford Field (home of the Lions) and Comerica Park (home of the Tigers). Many locations ride through their downtowns. The E. Lansing, MI, Ride ends at the State Capitol building.
In Grand Rapids, our half-way point is a
local park, that has a rotary in it. We circle this, which allows
riders to acknowledge all other riders as we pass each other. (we have
3-4 bag pipers playing Amazing Grace on the rotary)
Will you need support from local law enforcement and your local municipality?
Let your local officials know what you are doing and why. Let them know you are a funeral procession for cyclists and should be accorded the same rights as a motorized funeral procession. This means you stay together through traffic signals/stops signs, and you have the right – of – way.
Enlist their support. In numerous locations across the globe, local governments support the Ride in their community, without requiring permits and/or fees. There are a few however that do require these.
See if local officials will join you at the Ride and participate in it, to help raise visibility. Let them know this is global. To quote our organizer in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam:
“We were honoured by the participation of Pehin Yahya, Minister of Industry and Primary Resources. My best description on the significance of Pehin's participation is he was the "Amplifier" for Brunei Ride of Silence. If not for his presence, Ride of Silence would not have received national TV coverage and front page headline in National Newspapers. His participation amplify our voice and message.”
Get police escort, and if possible a patrol car at the end of the Ride. Many locations have motorcycle police involved, who act as ride marshals, moving from busy intersection to intersection, controlling traffic. A number of locations use some of their stronger riders to do this.
Ride no faster than 12 mph (20kph). Again you may have novice riders with you who may be taxed at anything faster.
**Be sure to control your pace. We learned the hard way one year in GR. The patrol car leading us kept going from 12 to 15 mph, even though I asked him to go no faster than 12 mph. There were a number of older riders who were pushed to their limit. I now force the patrol car to match my pace, and if needed pull out in front of the officer, and set the pace.
Consider enlisting a local motorcycle organization to support you with Ride Marshals. (May is National Share the Road month for Motorcyclists. We both share the love of the open road and the wind in our face!)
help cover any costs you may have
incurred, if you are required to purchase a permit, etc., do what other
locations have done, ask for donations prior to the start of the Ride,
and let riders know why you need their monetary support.
Promote Your Ride / Get the Word Out:
1: Distribute mini-posters (8.5” X 11”) to all the local area bike shops, health clubs, colleges/univ., java joints etc., where cyclist may hang out. Distribute flyers and folded brochures. Place 11” X 17” posters. There are templates for all of these on the RofS organizer resources page. Including a new multilingual international brochure.
We need to get as many riders out as possible, not just our club members.
2: Contact local media: Contact local TV stations, radio stations and newspapers. Numerous locations have media coverage of their Ride. See if they will run a story BEFORE the Ride, to help promote it, and then ask them come out the day of and cover the actual Ride.
This may be the most important factor; The media represents our power of speech, which is silent that evening, on what we are doing and what we hope to accomplish. Their coverage along with signage on you during your Ride is our voices. Otherwise the public and motorists may perceive us a bunch of bicyclists just blocking traffic. We are NOT a critical mass ride.
3: Promote it heavily within your club and to any sister cycling clubs in your area.
4: Email as many cyclists as you know, and ask that they join you, not only in honoring fallen cyclists, but to help make the roads safer for themselves.
5: Post your Ride to local cycling forums, or national and worldwide ones.
6: Post your Ride to local and state web cycling calendars of events. (Here's a Word document listing numerous ones in the U.S. and worldwide) Also, most TV stations have a calendar of events you submit an event to, typically within a specified time frame. Contact and submit to these.
7: Contact local and state cycling organizations, coalitions, associations, etc., and ask if they will help support and promote your Ride. (Here's a listing (PDF format) of many of the bicycling organizations that we've been able to find around the world if you don't know how to contact the one in your area; plus here are two more PDF documents from the League of American Bicyclists with key contacts for each state (names, phone #s, and email addresses; current as of Mar. 2010). PDF 1 - PDF 2 )
of Michigan Bicyclists heavily
and promotes the Michigan Rides of Silence, which is partly why
10% of RofS locations worldwide the past 3 years.
and During the Ride:
1: Have a sign or banner if possible at the Ride for all to see why we’re there.
2: Post and recite the Ride of Silence poem.
Remind everyone why they are there before
As Chris advises, have riders look at the riders next to them. Then mention that unfortunately someone you just looked at may be injured or killed by a motorist in the coming year and that hopefully through our Ride of Silence we can help educate the general public of the need to Share the Road with us.
4: Say a prayer just before you start (some locations have a priest or pastor deliver a prayer)
5: List the riders you are riding in memory of (with family approval if necessary), and/or have a picture available. This helps to bring the message home. (our Kalamazoo MI organizer the past 2 years has made a large poster, with a picture of local cyclists that were killed a few weeks before their Ride. He has all riders sign these, and then sends these to the cyclist’s parents or family. In 2008 it was of a Japanese rider attending college in Kalamazoo. He sent it to Jun’s parents in Japan. Their thank you letter, posted on the RofS website, drives home the point of why we do this!)
Print the names of riders you are riding in memory of and wear these on your backs.
6: A number of locations are supported by local musicians. A trumpeter playing Taps at the start or a bag piper playing Amazing Grace. See if local musicians will support you.
7: Have signs in large bold text on your person or bikes during the Ride, stating the Ride of Silence and Share the Road. (templates can be found on our Resources page)
Some locations made “flags’ of the R of S logos and had them on poles.
If you have a SAG vehicle, tape a large banner to each side. (template with this packet)
8: Have posters request having headlights/taillights on bikes, so we are more of a procession. (and sadly to imply funeral). Remember, HELMETS are MANDATORY.
9: If bystanders ask you who you are, and what are you doing, consider handing out pamphlets or flyers about the Ride, as did riders in Charlestown Saint Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean did, thus allowing them to remain Silence. The E. Lansing event has a couple large bike trailers that they use for banners like "Ride of Silence - Remembering Bicyclists Hit and Killed on our Roads", "Same Roads, Same Rules, Same Rights" & "Share the Road", etc.
10: Remain Silent at all time, use hand signals for turns, hazards in the road, etc. Only speak if it’s absolutely necessary. To quote our Washington DC organizer last year:
“It was eerie riding along without talking. Cycling is such a social activity, so, to be with so many other cyclists and to not be talking was powerful.”
11: Provide Black and Red Arm Bands. A very inexpensive way to do this; Go to a large fabric store (hopefully national, like Joanne’s) and buy a few rolls of the widest black & red ribbon they have, preferably 2.5”. Cut these in lengths that can easily be tied around the arm. Ask cyclists to return these after the Ride, to be used for next year. (black to honor a cyclist who was killed, and red for one that was injured by a motorist)
Do You Need Insurance?
The Ride of Silence board recommends this and lists an agency (see our Links page), that most cycling organizations and clubs use, to cover their races, tours, events, etc.
No, it’s not required, unless your local municipality requires it.
A Ride of Silence event is not like other organized rides, tours, races, where a rider signs a registration form linking him or her to the Ride. There is no written contract between you.
If this is still a concern, we've provided a Release of Liability document. Edit it for your location, and add any organizations supporting your ride, and have your riders sign this prior to the start. This was drafted by lawyers who are fellow cyclists.
Have a Safe and Successful Ride of Silence.
Ride of Silence Board Member, Mentor, Club Communications
Ride of Silence MI USA Director, Grand Rapids MI 2005-2010 Organizer