PORTAGE, Mich. (WOOD) — A silent tribute to bicyclists killed while riding traveled through Portage Wednesday evening.
Bicyclists left from Portage’s Millennium Park at 7 p.m., the same time as Ride of Silence events in other cities, including Grand Rapids, Lansing and Detroit. Portage police officers on bicycles escorted riders on the eight-mile ride, with flashing lights for safety.
Among those riding in the 15th annual Ride of Silence was Paul Gobble. On June 7, 2016, he and eight other bicyclists were hit by a pickup truck while riding near Markin Glen Park in nearby Cooper Township. Five of the bicyclists died in the crash: Debbie Bradley, Melissa Fevig-Hughes, Tony Nelson, Larry Paulik and Suzanne Sippel.
Gobble rode with his daughter, Emma, on Wednesday. He told 24 Hour News 8 that seeing the response to the biking tragedy has been overwhelming.
“It’s been amazing. I did not know that such a powerful outpouring was even possible. I’ve never been involved in anything like this before and that really amazed me, continues to amaze me,” he said.
Dozens of the cyclists wore black ribbons around their arms to memorialize the people killed while doing what they love. Others wore red for those who are injured in crashes with bicyclists. The sobering symbol was a driving force behind the Ride of Silence as cycling grows more popular.
“We’re getting used to it both structurally systematically and I think, just as a community, I think we’re figuring it out and learning how to get along,” Tim Krone of Pedal Bicycles in Portage said. “We’re all in this together trying to find our way and giving each other a little bit of room isn’t so hard.”
Last year’s Ride of Silence was held a day after the fatal crash. More than 500 bicyclists took part.