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Bicyclists ride to send message, pay respects

Ride-of-Silence

About 200 bikes took part in the local Ride of Silence between Ottawa Park and Toledo Children's Hospital.

The Blade/Jeremy Wadsworth
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There’s room for both of us.

That’s the message a group of 200 bicyclists had for motorists Wednesday night as they took to the streets in West Toledo and Ottawa Hills.

The hour-long, 7.8-mile ride, which included a police escort, started and ended at the University of Toledo and was sponsored by various local bicycling groups. It was part of the Ride of Silence held across the country and around the world Wednesday to memorialize bicycle riders who have died or been hurt while enjoying their pastime.

“Tonight we ride to honor those cyclists who have been injured or killed while riding their bicycle,” Keith Webb, an organizer, told the assembled riders before they departed from UT’s Bancroft Street entrance. “We ride to bring greater awareness that bicycles have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicles. We ride in an effort to create mutual respect between cyclists and motorists. The National Ride of Silence calls attention to the need for all those who use our roadways to be safe. We join over 300 rides worldwide, on all seven continents and in 22 countries, and in all 50 of our states.”

The procession of riders maintained strict silence and specifically honored David Larabee, Dr. Stephen Snedden, and Robert Brundage.

The riders paid tribute to Mr. Larabee by stopping at Ottawa Hills High School, where he was a popular teacher, and Dr. Snedden by pausing at Toledo Children’s Hospital, where the pediatrician who specialized in critical care and pulmonology treated his young patients.

A special memorial, called a “ghost bike,” was set up in Ottawa Park on Kenwood Avenue to pay homage to Mr. Brundage. It was an eerie bicycle painted all white. Ghost bikes are catching on internationally as a somber way to memorialize bicyclists who have been killed.

Mr. Larabee was struck and killed in 2005 in Springfield Township while he was riding home from the high school. Dr. Snedden was killed by a hit-skip driver on State Rt. 65 in Perrysburg Township in 2006, and Mr. Brundage died of head injuries in 2009 after being attacked by a teenage boy intent on stealing his bike in the Old West End.

The bicyclists said the ride was an important event for them.

Pat Squire, 75, said she had been riding for 35 years. She said she knew Mr. Brundage and wanted to honor him. She was accompanied by her husband Ray, who is 80.

Another rider, Mathew Naujock, said he was clubbed on the head with a bottle during an attack by a gang on Scottwood Avenue while riding home from work one night in September.

He was stunned but not seriously hurt in the attack, and said he wanted to show his determination to keep cycling and support his fellow riders. His bike was a fancy three-wheel “trike” with two wheels in front.

Mark Armstrong rode his bike to UT from his home in Maumee. He said he joined the ride in honor of a friend who was killed while riding his bike in 2006.

The friend, he said, was Christian Burkhart of Portage, Ohio, and his death served as a cautionary lesson that fatal accidents are not always the fault of a motorist. Mr. Burkhart, 20, was killed in Fulton County’s Amboy Township when he ran a stop sign on North Fulton Lucas Road and collided with a tractor-trailer.

“That could happen to any of us,” Mr. Armstrong said. “That’s why this ride is important. It brings rider awareness.”

Contact Carl Ryan at: carlryan@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.

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