Bicyclists living in Tacoma will ride one-mile in silence Sunday to the Parkland crosswalk where a 13-year old boy was struck and killed last month by a driver.
Local bicycling advocates expressed hope that the memorial ride would draw attention to the need for better infrastructure and safety while riding bicycles.
“Michael and other victims of traffic violence deserve better, and we’ve got to build safer infrastructure for everyone, especially our kids,” said Andrew Austin, a volunteer helping to organize the event.
Michael Weilert, who was using a crosswalk on Pacific Avenue to cycle across the street, was struck and killed in the afternoon of July 19. The signals for crossing the street blinked, and traffic stopped. But a woman continued on and struck Weilert. The driver was not arrested and cited on the spot.
The Washington State Patrol continues its investigation into the crash. Sgt. Darren Wright indicated Monday that the investigation is lengthy and could take several months.
The “Ride of Silence” will start at 4 p.m. at the Sprinker Recreation Center, 14824 C St. S., according to the event’s Facebook page. The rider will travel north on C Street approximately a mile to the spot where Weilert was struck at 134th Street East. Austin explained that the ride will be slow-paced and contemplative. Austin stated that organizers want the ride to be accessible to all ages and abilities.
“It’ll hopefully be quite a few people, so it’s a real visual around the fact that people biking deserve to exist safely in our streets just like everyone else,” Austin said.
Austin, 38, is a member of Downtown: On the Go! which is one of three groups that organize the ride. The transportation group promotes transit options in Tacoma. Also putting together the event are 2nd Cycle, a bike shop in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood and Cascade Bicycle Club, a statewide organization based in Seattle that educates riders and advocates for safe places to bike.
Weilert’s mother, Amber, told The News Tribune’s Matt Driscoll last week that her son loved his family, and that friends gravitated toward his personality. Driscoll wrote that Weilert also loved BMX biking and camping — the boy had returned home from a trip to Ocean Shores the day he was killed. Weilert’s funeral was to be July 30.
According to the event page Weilert loved anime and was proud to be an Slytherin. Participants were encouraged to wear anime or Harry Potter gear. Austin stated that he hopes his wife, a Harry Potter fan too, will help him decorate the bike.
Paul Tolmé, a spokesperson for Cascade Bicycle Club, said he hopes everyone who rides bikes or has loved ones who ride in Tacoma will consider coming.
“We really want to show the community and policymakers that Mike’s death cannot have been in vain,” Tolmé said. “There needs to be some good coming out of this.”