Hopping on a bicycle to pedal to work or play, comes with plenty of perks—fresh air, exercise, less pollution.

It can also be deadly.

Each year, on the third Wednesday of May, cyclists across the world go out for a ‘Ride of Silence’ in their communities. The international movement remembers bicycle riders killed in road crashes, and reminds all vehicles on the road to drive safe.

In Pennsylvania, the Harrisburg cycling community ends their ride at the capitol steps, where they place ghost bikes. Each one represents a cyclist killed in Pennsylvania the previous year.

There were 27 on the steps on Wednesday.

“Auto traffic is the biggest nemesis for bicyclists,” said Michael Lewis, a cyclist.

Over 100 bike riders came out for the silent 2 mile ride. At the capitol, a poem was read as riders placed flowers in the wheel spokes of each ghost bike.

“I think it’s special and important. It brings awareness to the dangers that people riding bikes face,” said Brian Mcdermott, another cyclist.

Riders at the event shared safety tips, emphasizing that safety is the responsibility of everyone on the road.

“It’s both of us. The cyclist, as well as the motorist,” said Pam Hirschhorn. "As a cyclist, make sure you have lights, reflectors at the very least. Have a brain bucket. Ride properly. You go with the flow of traffic, not against it.”

When asked what cyclists would want to tell drivers, the pleaded for space and respect.
“Slow down. That’s the main thing. Slow down, obey stop signs,” said Mcdermott. “and give us space. By Pennsylvania law, cars need to give cyclists 4 feet of space when passing."

How roads are constructed also impact bike rider safety.

“There’s just not enough infrastructure to separate bikes and pedestrians from cars,” said Mcdermott.

Ross Willard, organizer of the event, shared that it’s not enough to add bike lanes to new construction projects. He urged counties and the State to make sure there are transition lanes and signs at stoplights.

Still, cyclists say the benefits of riding outweigh the risks.

“The freedom you have- I ride down the street, I can hear birds chirping. I get the fresh air,” said Hirschhorn. "I'm 69. Like- I can do it! I can go up and down stairs. It’s wonderful exercise."

And wanted to remind drivers that biking may be a necessity.

“There’s a lot of people going to work on bikes because they can’t afford cars,” said Hirschhorn.

“People in cars assume that if they see someone on a bike, they're just out trying to have a good time and they're getting in their way,” said Mcdermott. "And I think a lot of people disregard just how many folks use bikes as their way to get around."