by Ron Cunningham, Bike Florida
Twenty years ago, on the day after Christmas in 1996, a group of six cyclists were riding from Gainesville to St. Augustine. They were traveling in a pace line on a rural road in Clay county when a distracted driver in a pickup truck slammed into all six cyclists.
Two of the riders, Margaret Raynal and Doug Hill, were killed instantly. The other four, Lauri Triulzi, Charles Hinson, Eric Finan, and Jessica Green all suffered various injuries.
The driver was never charged for his deadly moment of distraction. And the crash sent shock waves through the Florida cycling community.
Months later, friends, relatives and supporters gathered next to the rail-trail on Gainesville’s Depot Avenue to erect six sculptures as a memorial to the cyclists.
Designed by artist Eric Amundson, the rammed-earth structures contained parts of the smashed and ruined bicycles retrieved from the crash site.
Over the years however, the sculptures fell into neglect. An informational kiosk was dismantled. The rail-trail was rerouted. Weeds and overgrown landscaping eventually obscured the structures from public view.
Over the past two years Bike Florida has raised or donated $16,000 for restoration of the sculptures and their surroundings. And on the morning of Saturday, Oct. 29, the sculptures, which now anchor the northeast corner of Gainesville’s new Depot Park, will be formally dedicated and renamed the Share The Road Memorial.
The public is invited to the dedication ceremony. Cyclists are encouraged to gather at 9 a.m. on the campus of the University of Florida for a Ride of Silence to Depot Park in honor of Margaret and Doug.
The starting point for the Ride of Silence will be the site of the Kermit Sigmon/Margaret Raynal Memorial located between Little Hall and the College of Architecture building. Riders will proceed south across campus to the Archer Road rail-trail, cross the DNA Bridge and then proceed to Depot Park.
At 10 a.m. the dedication ceremony will begin. This will include comments by artist Eric Amundson, Linda Crider – a Bike Florida founder and close friend to Margaret – Bike Florida President Leigh Matusick and others who were associated with the creation of the sculptures.
We also hope to have as many of the surviving cyclists as possible in attendance, as well as friends and family members of two cyclists who were killed. Linda Crider will read a poem she wrote in memory of the victims.
The dedication ceremony will conclude with the unveiling of a large, concrete three-panel sign that has been erected next to the sculptures.
One panel will tell the story of the crash, another the creation of the sculptures and the third will be a “call to action” asking all users, motorists, cyclists and pedestrians alike, to take the Share The Road Pledge to use the public roadways safely and responsibly.
Please join us on Saturday, Oct. 29, for this very special renewal and dedication.
For further information contact Ron Cunningham at firstname.lastname@example.org or 352-262-5798.