Four women are traveling across the country in hopes of making roads safer for bicyclists.
The women – sisters Jeanie and Chelsea Ward-Waller and their mother, Jane, from Washington, D.C., and friend Stephanie Palmer from Illinois – began their Ride America for Safe Routes campaign Feb. 5 in Key West, Fla., and rode through North Augusta on Feb. 21, the same day they reached the 1,000-mile mark of their journey.
“We want to make the roads safer for bicyclists in general,” Chelsea said. “There are tons of bicyclists involved in accidents all over the country all the time, particularly in urban areas like Augusta. We just want to make the roads safer so people are able to get out on their bikes, or walk, and by raising awareness, it also makes the roads safer for cars because everyone slows down and pays more attention in general.”
The women planned their route to include cities that have had accidents involving bicyclists, she said.
“My sister wrote a thesis for her masters on promoting bike community in cities, and in her research, she discussed the worst cities for bike commuting, and we try to go through most of the major ones to help raise awareness and make the roads safer,” she said.
The group is also raising funds for the League of American Bicyclists, an advocacy group for bicyclists, and Safe Routes to School, a federally funded program that promotes walking and biking to school. So far, the women have raised more than $5,000.
While they are bicycling across the country, they are also meeting with groups who share a similar passion for biking and raising awareness about road safety. A few members of Wheel Movement-CSRA, an organization that promotes and supports the area cycling community, rode along with them from Trenton to Augusta and helped coordinate their visit to the area, which included a talk with the North Augusta Greeneway Trust Advisory Committee and a visit to a high school in Augusta.
“It’s so much fun to go to these communities and promote what organizations in the community are already doing,” Ward-Waller said.
The group hopes to reach San Francisco, the last stop, by the end of April.
Make donations, read the riders’ blogs and follow their route at www.rideforsafe