May is both National Bike Month and National Motorcycle Safety Awareness month, and in recognition of that, two campaigns are promoting safety for all who share the road.
This will be the 13th year the Ride of Silence takes place in the Permian Basin, an international event with the goal of remembering cyclists killed and educating cyclists and motorists of the responsibilities they carry when traveling.
“It’s to let the motorists know that we are out there, that we have the rights to the road,” Ride of Silence Organizer John Floyd said. “It’s a shared responsibility; we can’t put all of the onus on motorists. We have to take care of ourselves.”
Floyd said some of the ways both cyclists and motorists can be more careful on the road is by paying closer attention to the people around them and knowing the rules of the road. Cyclists have a right to ride in the lane and aren’t required to drive on the shoulder, and said motorists should get in the other lane to pass cyclists to make it safe for everyone.
Visibility is also important for cyclists, Floyd said. Cyclists can become more visible for those around them by using flashing lights on their bikes and wearing bright colored clothing.
“As cyclists, we have to do everything we can to be visible,” he said. “Let the folks around you know that’s what you’re going to do.”
During the 14-mile ride, there will be a stop to honor two Midland cyclists: Camron Stotts and Michael Mestas, who were recently killed in late April after being hit by a truck. A third cyclist, Jason Haislip, was also hit and taken to the hospital with critical injuries. The driver of the truck, Ricardo Madera, was arrested and charged with intoxication manslaughter, intoxication assault, and fleeing the scene of the crash.
The ride will begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the UTPB CEED Building at the southwest corner of the intersection of Highway 191 and FM 1788 in Midland. Floyd said anyone is able to participate, not just cycling enthusiasts, and is asking everyone interested in participating to arrive around 6:45 p.m.
As part of National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, the Texas Department of Transportation is launching a new campaign called “Share the Road: Look Twice for Motorcycles,” urging drivers to watch carefully for motorcyclists.
This campaign comes after crashes killed 501 and seriously injured another 2,101 motorcyclists in Texas last year.
“Nobody wants to take a life in a crash or lose a loved one,” TxDOT Executive Director James Bass said in a statement. “Motorcycles are small, they’re hard to see, and it can be difficult to judge their speed and distance. That’s why it’s critical that drivers take extra precautions to look twice for motorcycles, especially at intersections.”
Odessa saw its share of motorcycle crashes as well. Odessa Police Department Spokesman Steve LeSueur said 78 motorcycle crashes were reported in 2017, and five of them resulted in fatalities.
Through the end of April this year, LeSueur said there have been 15 motorcycle crashes reported in Odessa, with one of them resulting in a fatality.
A TxDOT news release stated there are several ways to ensure motorcyclists and drivers alike arrive safely to their destination:
- Look twice for motorcycles, especially at intersections.
- Always assume motorcycles are closer than they appear.
- Avoid turning in front of an oncoming motorcycle.
- Use turn signals and check blind spots before changing lanes.
- Avoid following a motorcycle too closely.
- Give motorcyclists a full lane.
- Obey posted speed limits.
- What: Ride of Silence.
- When: 7 p.m. Wednesday.
- Where: UTPB CEED Building, 1310 North FM 1788, Midland.
- More information: Call John Floyd at 432-681-7648.