David Ryan used to ride close to 6,000 miles per year on his bicycle.
But a routine ride on Riverview Road in Rexford nearly 10 years ago turned fatal after a negligent driver hitting speeds close to 90 mph in the 45-mph zone barreled into him.
June 29 will mark the 10-year anniversary of Ryan’s death. To commemorate the day and call attention to road safety for cyclists, friends of the dead man and fellow Capital Region bicyclists will embark on a 29-mile ride following a route that was one of his favorites.
“I ride past the site where David [Ryan] was hit quite often,” said David Kraus, an organizer of the David Ryan Safety Awareness Ride. “When I heard that he had been killed it really affected me.”
Ryan was wearing a helmet and riding with traffic on his final ride — there was nothing he was doing unsafely and nothing more he could have done to be safer, said Kraus.
He believes cyclists are in more danger now than ever before because drivers are becoming less aware of their surroundings.
“Drivers are more distracted than ever,” said Kraus while looking out on Riverview Road and pointing out numerous errors being made by automobile drivers. “If drivers just put away their cellphones and slowed down the road would be safer for cyclists.”
Nearly eight years ago, Bob Preville, a close friend of Ryan, placed a white “ghost bike” near the site of Ryan’s death. Preville and Kraus replaced the rusted and dented bike Sunday in favor of a newly painted one.
While the two were installing the new bicycle along with fellow cyclist John Gallivan, seven people rode by the crash site.
One commended the job the three men were doing, saying, “Really nice job guys.”
Kraus told two young girls who were riding against traffic that they were riding on the wrong side of the road.
“Another problem is that a lot of people don’t know the laws,” he lamented. “Especially kids, and that can be very dangerous.”
Ryan, who was 32 years old when he was killed in 2004, worked at General Electric’s Global Research facility in Niskayuna as a physicist.
Originally from England, he graduated from Oxford University near the top of his class, according to Preville, who said he met Ryan in 2002 and they soon became extremely close friends. He described a trip to Europe where the two visited a number of countries, including a trip to Ryan’s alma mater.
“When we went to the school all of his older teachers were raving about him,” he said. “He was a really brilliant guy.”
Joshua Paniccia, then an 18-year-old Niskayuna resident, served three years in jail for manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide for hitting Ryan.
Preville, however, felt this was the wrong way to punish the reckless driver.
“He should have had to do community service with families who lost loved ones to similar accidents,” he said.
Kraus said every cyclist should always wear a helmet, ride slow around winding roads and take notice of other people on the road, but even though he takes every possible precaution, he still fears getting into an accident.
“I could go out for a bike ride and not come back alive,” he said. “I want to come back alive.”