Social Isolation has facilitated many changes to the manner in which we interact in the community.
Most of us will find ourselves with ourselves and, in a sense, in silence - not having anyone to interact with.
This can lend to thinking more about the value of our relationships.
We don't know what we have until it is taken away.
We can hope that this encourages us to think more of others and become mindful that what we do potentially impacts upon them.
The Ride of Silence is an annual global event that we as bicyclists participate in to raise awareness in a non-threatening manner of sharing the road and road safety.
The Ride of Silence also honours those who have been killed or injured whilst riding.
The ride follows these simple rules of engagement:
1. Ride in silence.
2. Remember and honour those who have been hit while riding and killed or seriously injured.
3. Ride slowly and for a relatively short distance.
4. Wear a helmet and obey road laws for bicyclists.
This year, the organisers of this global ride encourage event participants to ride solo, with their household members, or "virtually" (on a trainer).
They report that participants from the remote Palmer Station in Antarctica have ridden stationary bike trainers for their event for many years, so this is not unheard of.
COVID-19 may have stopped us from riding in mass events; but it has also prompted many more people to ride.
Local bike shops across Victoria have reported increased sales far above their annual revenue.
It is wonderful to see many households in social isolation returning to the joy of bicycling.
Let's hope that this is something people carry forward when restrictions are relaxed!
However, the Ride of Silence is a timely reminder to newcomers and regulars alike to please ride in a manner that makes us responsible road users.
We must share the road safely and make sure we are highly visible.
Flashing lights for bicycles are not super-expensive; many are USB-rechargeable and last for some hours per charge.
These can be seen 300 to 400 metres away; using them morning, noon and evening will improve our visibility.
We can be our own worst enemies in the clothing we choose.
Black is fashionable and slimming, no doubt, but not seen as easily by others sharing the road.
Side-on, our lights are of little value, so we must compensate with our clothing to be seen.
Emergency workers all wear 360-degree high-visibility clothing - something that bicyclists could seek to emulate.
Our position on the road also affects our visibility.
We are more visible riding a metre out from the kerb, or riding two-abreast, than riding on the edge of the road.
The current social distancing requirement is no less than 1.5 metres.
The Victorian road laws allow for bicyclists to ride two abreast but no more than 1.5 metres apart.
Please consider how you balance and manage these two requirements without using an undue (or unsafe) amount of road real estate.
Please keep safe as we don't want you to be a statistic for the Ride of Silence.
Looking forward to seeing you on the road soon, God willing.