By Harry Ford

JACKSONVILLE, ILLINOIS – Local bicyclists are taking to the roads May 20 in a silent procession to honor cyclists who have been killed or injured while cycling on public roadways.

The Ride of Silence is a worldwide event to honor those injured or killed while bicycling, to raise awareness of bicyclists on the road, and to promote bicycle safety.

Jacksonville’s Ride of Silence will occur simultaneously with thousands of other similar events worldwide on Wednesday, May 20. Bicyclists will meet at 6:30 p.m. in the Tribute Garden at Passavant Area Hospital (near north entrance). Following a very short program, which will include a moment of silence, bicyclists will depart from Passavant’s north entrance for an approximate 45-minute ride. Riders will be escorted by the Jacksonville Police Department. Riders must wear a helmet and wear a reflective or bright-colored shirt. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

From the north entrance of Passavant, bicyclists will ride across town to Foreman Grove and back to finish at Passavant’s north entrance. The ride is just over 8 miles.

The Ride of Silence originated in White Rock Lake, Texas, in 2003, and was inspired by the death of endurance cyclist Larry Schwartz.

Passavant not only will be the focal point of this ride — they are also a sponsor of Protect the Melon! The Town Brook Initiative of the Jacksonville Park Foundation works in conjunction with Illinois College psychology students and others to distribute helmets to all fourth graders in Jacksonville-area schools. Protect the Melon! is cosponsored by the Morgan County Medical Society.