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Ride of Silence to pay tribute to bicyclists killed by vehicles

May 9, 2019 GMT

DeKALB – Local bicyclists on Wednesday will ride in silence in honor of Carlos Melendez and all of the other people who have been killed while sharing the road with vehicles.

Melendez, 49, of DeKalb, was hit by a vehicle and killed on Aug. 23 as he rode his bicycle to work along Fairview Drive in DeKalb, near the Nestle Distribution Center. The driver of the vehicle that hit Melendez, Jonathon D. Wood of Genoa, has been charged with aggravated driving under the influence and involuntary manslaughter in connection with the incident, according to DeKalb County court records.

Bicyclists will gather at the Northern Illinois Recreation Center, 325 N. Annie Glidden Road, on Wednesday as part of the Ride of Silence, an international event in which bicyclists ride to honor those who have fallen and to spread awareness about bicycling safety. The ride will start and end at the NIU Recreation Center and participants will be encouraged to ride silently.

Toney “Beanzie” Xidis, founder and president of the Kish Bike and Rec Club, said he had thought about bringing the Ride of Silence to DeKalb for years, but the death of Melendez was the incentive he needed.

“Part of it is educating the community and people who are in vehicles,” Xidis said. “Many people for instance aren’t aware bicyclists have a legal right to the road.”

DeKalb will be one of 20 Illinois towns taking part in the event. Those who wish to participate can check in at 6:30 p.m. at the NIU Recreation Center.

The eight-mile ride will begin at 7 p.m. and is free for anyone who wants to join. Helmets are required, and all riders must follow the rules of the road, according to the Ride of Silence website.

Of the 37,133 fatalities from motor vehicle crashes in 2017, 783 were bicyclists, about 2% of the total, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The General Assembly amended the Illinois Vehicle Code in 2017 to allow drivers to pass bicyclists in no-pass zones, provided they leave a safe distance between the vehicles and bikes.

The DeKalb Sycamore Area Transportation Study will hold an open house before the event at the NIU Recreation Center to inform community members about its Active Transportation Plan. The plan will include updates and continuations to pedestrian and bicycle pathways.