Cyclists will ban together Sunday to ride in support of several local riders who have been injured on East Texas roadways in the past month.
The eight-mile “Vigilance Ride” will begin at 3 p.m. at Elite Bicycles, 610 Shelley Drive, said Cori Moore, organizer of the event.
Mrs. Moore said the ride is not a protest, but rather a show of camaraderie within the biking community for its fellow riders.
“This is not a protest ride in any way, shape or form,” she said. “We are not coming out aggressively, and we are not trying to surprise anyone, and we are not trying to take up major roads for a long span of time.”
The route will bring the cyclists on Old Jacksonville Highway and Broadway Avenue, as well as utilize the city’s marked bike path for a portion of the ride. It will loop back to Elite, where there will be water for the riders.
The cyclists will be escorted by the Tyler Police Department to ensure safety and visibility.
Mrs. Moore said the pace will be lax, so inexperienced riders or those on mountain bikes will be able to keep up. More than 100 riders confirmed attendance through a Facebook event page as of Wednesday afternoon.
The idea for the ride came after cars struck several local cyclists in the county.
A cyclist remained in critical condition Wednesday at ETMC hospital after being hit by a car while riding her bike Sunday along FM 3052 near Troup. Friends said that despite having broken bones in her back and a gash on her head, Janice Terry-Phillips is expected to make a full recovery.
In mid-July Mark Cathey was struck by the mirror of a Ford F-150 as he was riding his bike on U.S. Highway 69 on the overpass at Farm-to-Market Road 344. Cathey suffered broken ribs and other injures but also is expected to recover.
Mrs. Moore said she doesn’t believe that drivers are intentionally harming cyclists, but they are distracted and not paying full attention to the road.
“I don’t think there is this intention to harm as many cyclists as possible,” she said. “I think most of us drivers are just distracted, and even texting and car accidents are happening and that may play a pretty big role.”
The Tyler Bike Club has been working on an awareness campaign to put a face of the bicycling community an increase awareness of their presence on the roadways. Any donations to the campaign can be made during the event.