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Three dozen bicyclists rode slowly three times around Lake Hollingsworth this evening as part of the international Ride of Silence. The rides are held to honor and remember those who were injured or killed while riding on public roadways.

The Lake Hollingsworth location is especially poignant because the popular bike path there has been the site of two bicyclist deaths this decade, said Jeff Clark, co-president of the Polk Area Bicycling Association and one of the event’s organizers.

Byers Levy was killed the afternoon of Sept. 8, 2013, near Lake Hollingsworth Drive and Fairhaven Drive when his bicycle was hit by a man who later pleaded no contest to DUI manslaughter.

Three months later, lawyer Geoff Vining died from injuries suffered in March 2012 when his bicycle was hit by a driver who was ticketed for failure to yield right of way when making a left turn into the Lakeland Yacht and Country Club.

The deaths led to safety enhancements along the bike path, including a reconfiguration of the Cleveland Heights intersection, bumps to warn drivers they were intruding on the bike path and new signage.

In addition, a continuous flow lane is planned for Lake Hollingsworth Drive at the intersection of Ingraham Avenue. A short concrete barrier will separate the bike lane from auto traffic and allow riders to continue unimpeded except when pedestrians are crossing.

Jeff Clark

Other sponsors for tonight’s event were Bicycling in Lakeland and the Pedal Power Bicycle Ministry at First Presbyterian Church.

Riders left the church at 7 p.m., the same time as bicyclists throughout the world who participate in Rides of Silence. At 12 miles an hour, the three laps around the nearly-three-mile path took about 45 minutes.

Before they left, Clark reminded the riders to obey traffic laws since they represent the bicycling community. While he said he didn’t always follow all the traffic rules, that’s changed. “If I don’t do it in my car, I don’t do it on my bike,” he said.

The purpose of the Ride of Silence organization, according to its website, is “to honor those who have been injured or killed, to raise awareness that we are here, to ask the we all share the road.”

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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