On May 18, the Mesilla Valley Bike Coalition will be hosting a Ride of Silence at the Mesilla Plaza in New Mexico, according to the Las Cruces Sun-News. The Ride of Silence is commemoration people who have been injured or killed in automobile-bicycle accidents.

Trina Witter, co-founder and president of the Mesilla Valley Bike Coalition, encourages all cyclists to come out and join the 10-12 mile ride.

The coalition tries to find the cause of bicycle accidents and prevent them in the future.  Witter believes that the vast majority of the accidents are preventable.

“We don’t call them accidents,” she says.

Since its founding in 1999, the Mesilla Valley Bike Coalition has been lobbying for bicycle safety legislation.  They have asked the New Mexico state government to ban the practice of partial paving, which is a cost-saving effort in which the government builds or repaves roads and leaves a thin strip for cyclists to ride on. They also launched a successful “Ride Right, Right Bright” in 2010 after a cyclist died in a bicycle accident and they determined that poor visibility was the cause.

The Mesilla Valley Bike Coalition has been meeting with New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and the State Department of Transportation, voicing concerns after a March 6 bicycle accident killed Dr. Ronald Fronczek.

Witter says the goal is to make the roadways safer for everyone, not just the cyclists.  The group has been successful in getting the State Department of Transportation to put striped bike lanes and signs along the frontage road for Interstate70.  They host an annual Bike-to-Work Day and formed a Bicycle Friendly City Task force, and they offer bicycle safety courses to the public.

“Motorists and cyclists need to coexist,” Witter says.  “Sometimes we are accused of advocating only for bikers, but our concern is for all users of the road.”

“Some people think all bikers run red lights and fail to stop at stop signs,” Witter said. “There are bicyclists who do not observe the rules of the road.  We have been working to change that.  Bicycles are vehicles, and they must observe the rules of the road for vehicles.  We teach cyclists to be more visible, more predictable, to be careful and assertive riders.”

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