KOSCIUSKO, Miss.–One of the most popular cycling routes in the country cuts a diagonal line through Mississippi. People come from around the world to ride on the Natchez Trace Parkway. Unfortunately, it’s also been the site of several cycling deaths over the years. But it’s not only the Trace where cyclists have been killed in the state. That’s why three Mississippi cities hosted Rides of Silence Wednesday.
Those cities included Hernando, Ridgeland and Kosciusko. The events were part of a nation-wide effort with more than 300 events to remember and honor those injured or killed while cycling.
LINK: Rides of Silence http://www.rideofsilence.org/main.php
The Hernando event featured a ceremony that included the playing of “Taps” and a police escort for the riders, who rode slow a distance of just over 8 miles.
The Kosciusko and Ridgeland events featured keynote speaker Donna Holdiness, via recorded message. Holdiness is the widow of Dr. Gary Holdiness, a popular Kosciusko physician who was killed last may, hit from behind by a 17-year-old driver while cycling on the Trace. Holdiness had already been an advocate for cycling safety, helping push for the “Gimme Three Feet” rule that says drivers in motor vehicles must allow three feet of clearance between their vehicles and cyclists.
“This kid, driving at a minimum speed of 78 mph, 28 over the speed limit, was in a lengthy text exchange with a friend when he slammed into the back of my husband,” said Holdiness. “The brakes were never applied. My husband never knew what hit him. Because of a text message that could not wait he did not react to the impact for 182 feet.”
Holdiness stressed the need to pay more attention to the road and much less attention to taking phone calls or replying to texts. Below is her message, courtesy Breezynews.com and News Mississippi affiliate 98.3 The Groove. Her remarks reflect evidence gathered by investigators.
There have been several other notable deaths while cycling, including at least one in 2013 on the Natchez Trace.