By Jen Kastner
PERMIAN BASIN- The Basin's been described as being notoriously unfriendly to cyclists. The number of deaths and near misses have local cyclists on-edge. On Wednesday night, they rode in silence to honor those who were killed while riding on the streets of Midland and Odessa.
David Ham is the owner of Peyton's Bikes in Midland. He's lost fellow riders who were also good friends. "We've had to identify a couple of them because they didn't have identification and we knew what kind of bike it was," Ham said.
At the Ride of Silence, he and dozens of other cyclists mourn their deaths. In funeral-style procession, riders quietly remember locals killed while on their bikes.
Organizer John Floyd says, "It's a somber occasion but it's also a celebration that we're able to get out here and still continue to ride and do what we love doing."
Cyclists ride silently along Highway 191 going no faster than 12 miles per hour.
All along the path there are bikes painted white. They're meant to memorialize those who were killed while riding.
Since the mid-1980's, the Basin has seen at least 10 fatal bicycle accidents and there's no telling how many near-misses have happened.
"The reality is that people aren't watching out for cyclists," Floyd said.
In a place known for it's big semi trucks and SUV's, riding around on two wheels is somewhat of a rarity.
Ham says, "You're on something that's 30 pounds and those cars are 3,000 pounds."
Cyclists say the drivers in the Basin don't expect to see people on bikes, which is a huge problem.
"The Permian Basin is not the most cycle-friendly place on the Earth," Floyd said.
However, they're trying to change all that by raising awareness so that tragedy doesn't continue to strike this tight community.