LANSING — Eric Snider loved to ride his bike. In a given year, he would clock five to six thousand miles, his daughter Jayne remembers him.
His daily commute to his job as assistant dean of academic affairs at Lansing Community College was so beloved that his family couldn’t keep him off the bike after a 2013 collision.
He later died on that same commute in 2016, struck from behind by a pickup truck.
To memorialize riders like Snider killed or injured by motor vehicles, an expected 200 cyclists from Greater Lansing will attend the region’s 15th annual Ride of Silence, one of more than 300 rides across the world scheduled for May 18. Jayne, who lives in Holt, will ride for the fifth year in her dad’s honor.
“I participate when I can to share his story and show support for the countless other cyclists who enjoy being on the road still,” she said. “And for the ones who lost somebody like how we lost my father.”
The event, which is sponsored by the Tri-County Bike Association and MSU Bikes, will start with riders meeting on in the plaza east of Wells Hall at Michigan State before leaving at 6:30 pm, cycling down Michigan Avenue to the Capitol.
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Lead coordinator Pat Harrington said the size of the crowd means they have to ride slower to accommodate the speed of different cyclists, making the experience poignant.
“It causes a lot of reflection, and you’re in a procession,” Harrington said. “It’s similar to attending a funeral.”
Tim Potter, manager of MSU Bikes and an organizer of the Greater Lansing Ride of Silence, said the ride advocating for infrastructure improvements is a vital memorial to have. While it’s the 15th in the region, the larger initiative is now in its 20th year.
“I’ve had a lot of people say it’s the most meaningful and most important ride they do every year,” said Potter, who also works as webmaster for the international Ride of Silence organization. “It’s a very powerful event to just ride in silence without chitchat just to focus on these people that have been hurt and are gone now.”
Lansing has seen many improvements to its cycling infrastructure in the last decade or so, which Potter credits largely to the efforts of bike enthusiast and city public service director Andy Kilpatrick. But tragedies still strike in the region. Last winter, a 62-year-old cyclist was killed by a driver in Clinton County. In 2020, the most recent year the Michigan State Police has compiled data for, a total of 38 cyclists were killed in fatal crashes on Michigan roads with an additional 933 injured.
Safety is of the utmost importance during the ride, especially as some cyclists will be riding in the dark on their way home. Helmets are required, lights and bright clothing are recommended and Lansing Police bike patrol officers and motorcycles will accompany riders.
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The ride will culminate with a brief ceremony at the Capitol with comments from the League of Michigan Bicyclists before a celebration of local bike advocates afterwards at Ozone’s Brewhouse, located at 305 Beaver St. in Lansing’s Old Town.
Potter says the state Capitol is a symbolic destination—a way for riders to be seen in front of their representatives. Collecting a mass of riders helps to cement the need for improvements for cyclists, Harrington said.
“For the general public to see 200 riders at a time, it makes an impression,” he said. “If you just see two or three a day, then it’s almost like ‘gee, there aren’t that many riders.’ But the number of bicycle riders on a daily basis in this town is huge.”
For Snider, the visibility the event brings is an important way to advocate to keep riders like her dad safe.
“I try to remind people to think of their family members,” she said. “Maybe a cyclist slows you down a little bit in your commute, but you don’t want the phone call that your family member was killed because somebody was in too much of a hurry.”
How to join the ride
Cyclists will gather on Michigan State University’s campus on May 18, with registration running from 5:15 pm to 6:15 pm in the plaza east of Wells Hall. In the event of thunderstorms or other severe weather, the ride will be rescheduled for noon May 21st at the same location.
A map of the route for the 9-mile round-trip is available online.
Helmets are required, and lights and bright clothing are recommended for those cycling back home afterward. Parking options are also available near the Capitol or in Old Town near the Brenke Fish Ladder.
Contact reporter Annabel Aguiar at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @annabelaguiar.