HUNDREDS of cyclists streamed through the Bendigo CBD this morning in a solemn tribute to those who had lost their lives on the roads.
Much-loved Bendigo professional cyclist Jason Lowndes, who died in December after being hit by a car while training at Mandurang, was at the forefront of many people’s minds as the Ride of Silence made its way from Epsom to Charing Cross.
“I had many tears in my eyes riding into town,” Jason’s father, Graeme said.
He led this year’s Ride of Silence along with Jason’s coach, Matt Wallace, and Jason’s sisters Meaghan and Rebecca.
Mr Lowndes wore one of his son’s cycling outfits, while riding one of his son’s bikes, and with a photo of Jason on the bike.
“The support of the crowd was just incredible,” he said.
Estimates ranged above and below 300 cyclists.
Organiser Edward Barkla said this year’s event – the city’s 13th – was particularly well supported.
He believed the special tribute to Jason partially accounted for the turnout.
“We actually threw the net much wider across all the clubs and associations by asking them to get behind it this year,” Mr Barkla said.
“It’s a significant thing – I mean, society is changing quickly and wanting to share the road is something that’s close to all our hearts.
“It doesn’t matter what discipline we are or how we ride, we all want to feel safe and respected on the roads.”
It was that message Mr Lowndes was trying to highlight with his involvement in the ride.
“It’s creating more and more awareness… and that’s what it’s about,” he said.
Mr Wallace said the ride demonstrated that cyclists accounted for a significant portion of road users.
“We all need to get along,” he said.
Many types of cyclists were represented in this morning’s ride, from professionals to families and children.
Though Jason’s death was still fresh in people’s minds, Mr Lowndes said the Ride of Silence was about everybody.
“We just want to do our bit,” he said.
Mr Barkla said every serious crash involving a cyclist was ‘jarring’ for members of the cycling community.
“When it happens it just brings reality that we are vulnerable and we do need people to share the road with us because we can’t do it by ourselves.”
He rode a tandem bike, solo, to represent those who were missing from the community.
Both Mr Barkla and Mr Lowndes encouraged cyclists to ride with lights on the front and rear of the bicycles – an initiative dubbed ‘Lights for Lowndesy’.
“If we’ve got lights on and we can be seen it’s got to help us,” Mr Lowndes said.