On Wednesday, May 19, at 6:30 p.m., scores of local citizens will mount bicycles and strap on helmets in front of the Osborn Aquatic Center in Corvallis. The usual excitement of a group of cyclists taking a short spin around town will be tempered for this one evening. This will be a ride of silence to honor those who have been injured or killed, to raise awareness of the numbers of people who ride bikes and to ask that all share the road. The international Ride of Silence started in 2003 in Dallas, Texas and is held annually on the third Wednesday in May. It has grown to include hundreds of locations worldwide. This event will be the 16th annual ride in Corvallis. A new route has been selected that will use the new Eric Austin Memorial Path. Eric Austin was hit in 2018 when crossing Highway 99W near that path. Marked by armbands and signs on a few bicycles, offering small cards in explanation of their presence, a long column of riders will wend their way through city streets in a silent, slow procession. No particular skill or endurance level is needed for the ride, according to coordinator Jay Thatcher. “Just wear a helmet and share the road. The leaders will stop often to let the line regroup,” he says.
So, riders, gather in front of Osborn Aquatic Center, 1940 NW Highland Dr. at 6:30 p.m. The riding begins promptly at 7:00 p.m. and is planned to last just over an hour.This local effort started after Robin Jensen, a police cadet and Aquatic Center staff member, was killed by a hit-and-run driver in August 2004. It is especially poignant due to the recent death of Eric Austin in South Corvallis. Other local cyclists that have died include Jane Higdon in 2006, Ed Bomber in 2008, William Brown, Hank Bersani and Carin Norris in 2012, Grant Garner and John Shapley in 2015, and Randall Fox in 2016. A white painted “Ghost Bike” has been appearing on streets and roads in Benton County to remind all of locations where people have been hurt or killed and to provide handbills about the Ride of Silence to interested passersby.