The hundreds of bicycle riders who hit the streets of Des Moines on Wednesday for the Ride of Silence had a succinct message for motorists: Pay attention and don't drive distracted.

For the last 14 years, Scott Sumpter, with Bike Iowa, has been organizing the 5-mile ride that he compares to a funeral procession.

"It's a very touching event," Sumpter said. "I have several friends who aren't here or can't ride anymore."

Sumpter said he's seen too many bikers die on Iowa roads.


"We are not disposable," he said. "We are somebody's son. We are somebody's daughter. We are not just somebody out there riding in the middle of the road."

In the last year, eight Iowans died while riding their bikes. One of them was 13-year-old Ali Hashim, who lost his life last August while riding near the intersection of Northwest 66th Street and Merle Hay Road in Johnston.

"After the accident, in five minutes, I come and I see him dead on the road," said Karim Jawdi, Ali's father, who wants harsher punishments for offenders. "This has hurt my family because, until now, he (the driver who hit Ali) has not said sorry about what he did."

The driver was never charged because drugs or alcohol were not involved in the crash.
"We are one of the few states that don't have a safe passing law. We don't have any ramifications for hitting cyclists," Sumpter said.

The bike riders hope the Ride of Silence raises awareness for drivers to stop driving while distracted, as it remembers those who lost their lives.

Bike Iowa says 300 Iowa bikers were injured in the last 12 months on Iowa roads. Nine events similar to the Ride of Silence will be happening in other cities across the state.

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