I wish to address the tragic death of Pete Bennett, who was killed by a car while riding his bicycle July 19.
I have become aware of a painful split within our community between some cyclists and some motorists. Some bicyclists feeling intimidated to ride and some motorists feeling annoyed to see bicyclists on the road.
It appears to me that there is an education needed for both. For the cyclists to follow all Arizona traffic laws while riding on public streets. For the motorists to do the same and recognize that bicycles have the legal rights to use the streets as well. Under Arizona law, bicyclists are treated as operators of vehicles. Bicycles have an absolute right to use roadways in a vehicular fashion. In effect, all lanes are bicycle lanes.
Since I have been cycling in the Verde Valley I have had numerous insults yelled out to me by motorists, been given a number of middle finger salutes and even shouted at: "If you get hit, it's your own fault".
I find this attitude unconscionable. I think of Rodney King and his plea: "Can't we all get along?"
For pete's sake! A very close personal friend of mine, and the man who encouraged me to get into cycling for my aerobic health, has now been killed by a car in our community: Pete Bennett died 7/19/07.
There has been a memorial bike ride set up to honor Pete and all fallen riders as well as to help raise the awareness of bicycle safety and "Share the Road," "Bikes Belong" signage. This ride is called FOR PETE'S SAKE. For my good friend Pete, and for Pete's sake can't we all get along? Share the road and co-exist, respect each other?
I think of this area of Arizona as being known for it's heart and beauty ... I would like to appeal to that aspect in all of us and invite you out to Dead Horse Ranch State Park on Labor Day at 6:30 a.m. to join us for the For Pete's Sake ride. All are welcome. Riders, motorist's runners, etc. The point is to draw together. Pete's children and grandchildren will be there. Please come and show your support. We can all get along.
There will be bicycle safety information to pick up for both motorists and cyclists and a bicycle safety booth manned by the Coalition of Arizona Bicyclists and the Verde Valley Cyclists. All riders are to wear helmets and obey all Arizona traffic laws. It is important that we do not stop at the ghost bike for any reason during the ride as this could cause a traffic hazard for 89A. We ask that any riders who wish to leave flowers in tribute leave them at the Dead Horse Ranch Los Alamos Ramada #5 with Pete's family, for safe transport after the ride.
We will ride in silence from the Page Springs turn off to the accident site where Pete died and return in order to respectfully honor Pete and all fallen riders.
Verde Valley Cyclists