Pablo Avendano’s Ghost Bike and memorial at 10th and Spring Garden Sts.

Later today, bicyclists from around the city, region, state, country, and world will participate in the Ride of Silence, a bicycle ride that takes place once a year to remember those cyclists who’ve been killed while on their bicycle.

We long for the day where a Ride of Silence isn’t necessary, but since this time last year, there have been eight deaths of people on bicycles in the city, including Samuel Ozer, Nadir Holloman, William Lindsay, Leonard Grinch, a still-unknown cyclist, Timothy Morgan, Andrew Wilt and Heather Peters.

We are participating in this ride, again, because of a lack of investment into bicycle infrastructure and infrastructure for all road users — pedestrians, bicyclists, and motor vehicles. These bicycle fatalities can and should be prevented. As a former (and sometimes current) bike messenger in Philadelphia, I’ve seen first-hand what the lack of safe streets look like for bike workers, commuters, and recreationists on a daily basis. I’ve also lost friends.

On Wednesday, May 12, 2021, I spent my lunch-time with Pablo Avendano’s family to memorialize his bicycle-related death that occurred on May 12, 2018, when Pablo 34, was struck by an SUV while cycling to deliver food at the intersection of 10th and Spring Garden St. in Philadelphia.

Pablo Avendano,aka Pablo Vive and Osito (the Bear) was a fellow bike messenger who was, and still is, loved by his fellow bike messenger community and family.

The time spent with his family and friends showed me how much was taken on that night because of the lack of bicycle infrastructure on Spring Garden St.; his death could and should have been prevented. We spent most of the lunch decorating his Ghost bike with flowers, balloons, and love to celebrate Osito’s life. His mother sang a beautiful song while lighting candles and she shared stories about who he is and mentioned that he still had so much to offer the world. His family emphasized that Osito still lives through them, the bike messenger community, and all cyclists who share the passion of riding their bikes.

More recently, on Saturday, April 24, 2021, Dr. Heather Ann Peters, 74, was struck by an SUV and killed while cycling on Eakins Oval (2400 block of Spring Garden St. and Kelly Drive).

Dr. Heather Peters was a Bicycle Coalition member, sinologist, anthropologist, archaeologist, United Nations worker, human rights activist, and her death has been felt around the world.

You can read her obituary at the Inquirer and here which describes her life and influences on the world. Dr. Peters was the second bicyclist killed in traffic in 2021; the first was on Thursday, February 25, 2021, the name of the victim is still unknown but he was 41 when he was struck and killed by a SEPTA bus on the 9900 block of Frankford Ave. Both of these deaths occurred at intersections known to have repeated traffic crashes.

In 2020 — a particularly horrible year for traffic violence in Philadelphia — there were a total of six bicycle-related deaths in Philadelphia:

  • Sam Ozer, 17, was struck and killed on Sunday, June 21, 2020, by a car while entering Henry Ave. off of Barnes St. on his bicycle. 
  • Nadir Holloman, 19, was struck and killed on Tuesday, July 7, 2020, by a car while trying to cross Kelly Drive on his bicycle. 
  • William Linsday, 32, was struck and killed on Sunday, July 12, 2020, by a car while bicycling on Ridge Ave. 
  • Leonard Grinch, 65, was struck and killed on Thursday, August 26, 2020, by a car while bicycling at 52nd St. and Girard Ave. 
  • Timothy Morgan, 55, was struck and killed on Saturday, December 5, 2020, by a car while bicycling on Mechanicsville Rd and Knights Rd.
  • Andrew Wilt, 36, was struck and killed on Friday, December 11, 2020, by a car while bicycling on Montour St. and Oxford Ave.

With the popularity of biking on the rise in Philadelphia and across the country, the City of Philadelphia needs to rethink and reinvest into more protected bike lanes, designated roads for non-motor vehicles, and overall safer streets for our communities.

To honor and memorialize these eight victims and all who have been taken in the past, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia would like to invite you and your cycling community to join us for the Ride of Silence 2021 today, Wednesday, May 19th at 6:45 pm – 8 pm.

You can find out more information about the ride here. See you there and stay safe. 

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