INDIANAPOLIS — A group of cyclists here in Indianapolis are joining a national movement to honor those who have been killed or injured while riding bicycles in our city.
The movement is referred to as a Ride of Silence and bicyclists took to the roads in a silent procession.
“It’s a somber ride,” said Connie Szabo Schmucker, an advocate for cyclists’ safety and organizer of this year’s event. “Usually when you ride in a group ride you’re talking and having a good time. You’re not supposed to talk at all during the Ride of Silence and for those of us that do a lot of group rides it’s a really different experience.”
Schmucker is the Advocacy Director for Bicycle Garage Indy and she said this is the first year the business is participating in the nationwide movement.
“In Indianapolis there were seven bicyclist who were killed in 2021,” said Schmucker. “And one of those was one of our employees, Frank Radaker.”
Radaker was hit and killed back in October at the intersection of 86th Street and the Monon Trail near the Nora Plaza. Schmucker said organizers made it a point to make that same intersection the highlighting of this year’s ride.
“Changes need to be made to the intersection to make it safer for all the trail users that go by,” said Schmucker. “30,000 people drive through that intersection every day and 2 million [trail users] a year use the Monon and that’s one of the busiest sections of the Monon.”
Schmucker argues that the major trail crossing is not very visible and cyclists want to see something done about it.
“What we’d like to see is changes to the timing of the intersection [and] changes to the approaches of the intersection so people are aware that there’s a major trail crossing,” said Schmucker.
Schmucker said “No Turn on Red” signs have been added to the intersection, but it has not stopped drivers. She said more cyclists will be out riding as the summer months approach, and drivers need to pay closer attention.
“Already there have been nine bicyclists hit this month alone in Indianapolis,” said Schmucker. “We don’t want to have any more fatalities and we don’t want to have any more injuries.”
In addition to seven cyclists being fatally hit last year, Schmucker said another 63 were injured and another 83 were involved in some type of crash. She and other cyclists are now pleading with drivers to look out for bicyclists, come to complete stops, and look both ways.
“I dream of the day when we don’t have to have a Ride of Silence,” said Schmucker. “Unfortunately today is not that day.”
At the end of Wednesday’s event, Schmucker said she planned to gauge the group’s interest in starting a petition. She said the petition would call for a formal traffic study to be completed with an eventual end-goal of getting a bridge or tunnel built over 86th Street.