The family of a Clovis man who was killed last month while riding his bicycle are signed up to ride in his memory Wednesday, May 18 at the Clovis/Fresno Ride of Silence.
Patrick TeNyenhuis, 49, was wearing a helmet and riding in the bike lane on Shaw Avenue when he was struck from behind by a car just after 6 a.m. on April 20. He is survived by his wife, who rides with Team in Training, and two daughters.
Thousands of cyclists in hundreds of cities in more than 20 countries will mount their bikes for the Worldwide Ride of Silence, held at 7 p.m. May 18 around the globe.
The Clovis/Fresno event drew 260 riders last year — it was the largest Ride of Silence in the state. The event is free and family-friendly, organizers said.
“The Ride of Silence is kind of a passive way of getting attention for the bicyclists’ plight and to raise awareness that ‘hey, we’re on the streets. We get to ride the roads just like you do,’” said Fresno Cycling Club president Dennis Ball.
Cyclists will meet at Steven’s Bicycles, 1365 N. Willow Avenue just north of Nees Avenue, at 6:30 p.m. for instructions and a prayer. The names of cyclists who have been killed or injured in bike vs. vehicle crashes will be read.
The route is 9.11 miles through Clovis and north Fresno, and cyclists will be asked to ride 12 miles per hour or slower, in silence. Helmets are required and lights are strongly recommended.
“We want everyone to be able to ride,” said Nanci Sumaya. It’s her third year in a row organizing the ride. “It brought a lot of attention last year and we hope to get more this year. A lot of motorists and people walking were looking at us wondering what’s going on.”
The route passes by the area where 7-year-old Donovan Maldonado was killed by a drunk driver while riding his bike with his family in 2012. Donovan’s father and 2-year-old sister Bella were also seriously injured in that crash.
The organizers will also honor Dr. William Dominic, an avid cyclist and longtime director of Community Regional Medical Center’s burn unit. He was seriously injured Feb. 26 while riding his bike home from work.
The Ride of Silence was first organized in Dallas in 2003 after endurance cyclists Larry Schwartz was hit by the mirror of a passing bus and died. The Clovis/Fresno event started in 2013.
Ask any cyclist, and there’s a good chance they’ll have a story — or several — about motorists who have run them off the road or cut them off.
“We in the cycling community see a lot of accidents going on and, it seems, a lot of angry drivers,” Sumaya said. “They don’t like us. We go riding out in the foothills where there’s less traffic, and people are throwing things at us.”
Rules of the road
AB 1371, the Three Feet for Safety Act, was passed in September of 2014, requiring motorists to give cyclists three feet of space when passing them. But cyclists say the law hasn’t really helped them feel safer, likely because it is not easily enforced.
Cyclists do find strength — and safety — in numbers.
Ball often leads group rides out on Auberry Road, where 55-year-old Jim Healy was killed in 2013 while riding. The father of three was a technology teacher at Sunnyside High School.
Large groups of cyclists intimidate drivers, Ball said.
“It actually is safer for us because cars realize we’re there,” he said. “If it’s just two or three of us, or one of us, then they feel more superior and they’re like ‘what are you doing on our road?’”
Cyclists are not obligated to ride in the shoulder; they are required to ride in a bike lane if one is available.
“If a lane is substandard, meaning less than 12 feet (wide), a motorist can’t share the lane with a bicycle,” Ball said. “The bicycle has the right to take the lane; he doesn’t have to get out of the way.”
But out of courtesy — and often their own safety — cyclists usually get out of the way and let cars pass, Ball said.
“We don’t want to be the bad guys,” he said. “That’s where motorists get the idea. Because we try to be courteous like that, and we try to ride far to the right side of the road, they think that’s where we’re supposed to be all the time. So if we try to get over in the lane, trying to be safe for us, that’s when they get upset with us.”