LAFAYETTE — More than 100 bicyclists rode in silent, solemn pairs across 10 miles of Lafayette on Wednesday in the local observance of what organizers say is the worldwide “Ride of Silence” movement to raise awareness of those who ride and to honor riders killed or injured by motorists.
The ride started at the Mickey Shunick Ghost Bike Memorial, a monument erected at the end of St. Landry Street within the last year, and ended in the downtown Parc Sans Souci.
“It’s basically a funeral procession,” said organizer Jon Langlinais, who handed out “spoke” cards to others with the names of those killed or hurt badly while riding.
One of the names on the card was Michaela “Mickey” Shunick’s.
Shunick was an avid cyclist and animal lover.
Sunday will mark one year since Brandon Scott Lavergne purposely drove his truck into Shunick’s bicycle as she rode home from a friend’s house near downtown, abducted the University of Louisiana at Lafayette student, then killed her.
Lavergne, who also pleaded guilty in the 1999 slaying of Lisa Pate, of Lafayette, after prosecutors took the death penalty off the table, will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Laglinais said he invited Shunick’s family to the event, though none of her family rode in the procession or attended the beginning of the event.
One bicyclist who did attend was Carl Menard.
In November, Menard said, he was riding south of Lafayette with other cycling buddies when a motorcyclist lost control and took out seven bicycle riders, including him.
Menard’s left forearm, which bears the scars, was mangled. It took 16 screws and two metal plates to put it back together, he said.
“When you pick your arm off the asphalt, and it’s bent, and the bone is sticking out, it’s scary,” Menard said. “I’m glad I was in shock. I didn’t feel it.”
Monique Koll attended the start of the ride, but didn’t hop on a bicycle. She can’t.
Koll was barely able to get out of her car Wednesday and walk around with the aid of a cane after an October accident in Duson.
Koll said she was riding her bicycle when she was hit from behind by a uninsured, unlicensed driver.
“I like to say I broke his windshield, and he broke my back,” Koll said.
Before starting, Langlinais told the participants, who rode a variety of makes and model bikes, that they should observe silence and traffic lights.
“We’re going to respect and be respected,” he said.