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Cyclists ride to honor late biking safety advocate

Posted: October 10, 2010 2:52 p.m.
Updated: October 11, 2010 5:00 a.m.
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Ralph Nugent, an avid cyclist, was killed earlier this year while riding his bicycle. His wife, Dottie Nugent (fourth from left), and his cycling friends (from left) Ellen Atkinson, Randall Watts, Martha Watts, Alex Bruce, Taaka Dorman and Pam Spivey stand with a sign erected in Nugent's memory which promotes rider safety.

More than 50 cyclists gathered at INVISTA Oct. 2 with only one goal in mind: to raise motorist awareness by holding a memorial bike ride in honor of Ralph Nugent.

Nugent, a local advocate for motorist awareness, was killed by a car while riding his bicycle in Lee County several months ago.

“The purpose of the event today is to send a message to drivers to share the road. Cyclists need to be aware that no matter how well they protect themselves they can still be harmed. My husband Ralph’s accident was proof of that,” Nugent’s widow, Dottie, told the crowd. “Cpl. Rudolphe Osteen emphasized to me that Ralph had been doing everything correctly from a safety standpoint and the road was ideal with wide shoulders. It was a needless accident.”

Pam Spivey, event coordinator for the Ralph Nugent Memorial Ride, said that although a local bicycle group came up with the concept for the memorial ride, it immediately partnered with other local bike groups; Eat Smart, Move More (ESMM) of Kershaw County; and the United Way of Kershaw County to turn its concept into a reality.

INVISTA, Nugent’s employer, allowed the group to kick off its ceremony and place Share the Road and “In Memory of Ralph Nugent” signs on its property, before embarking on a 13-mile memorial bike ride through Camden.

During the ceremony, more than seven speakers came forward to discuss the importance of cycling safety, as well encourage others to stay physically active and healthy.

Several speakers who knew Nugent personally described a man who was dedicated to making the roads safer for cyclists and encouraging residents to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Others who were not close friends of Nugent praised his efforts to raise motorist awareness.

“Eat Smart, Move More battles the epidemic of obesity and especially focuses on childhood obesity. Our mission is to coordinate collaborative and sustainable efforts to support healthy eating and active living where Kershaw County residents live, learn, work and play,” said Shelley Jansen, physician and medical director of KershawHealth Urgent Care at Elgin. “By installing Share the Road signs throughout the county, we are sending a message to our community that cyclists are important and we want them to be safe.”

Jansen also added that while Nugent wasn’t a member of ESMM, he played an active role in their efforts by helping to identify dangerous areas where he felt signs were needed.

Spivey said county residents can soon expect to see 28 Share the Road signs on local roads.

As the ceremony prepared to end, Nugent’s daughter, Amy Haase, told the crowd she was honored to wear her father’s bicycle helmet during the ride, and urged the crowd to continue to advocate for cycling safety.

“I am very proud to be riding with my father’s closest cycling companions today, and it is a great honor to wear his helmet and advocate for cycling safety on his behalf. I want my father’s legacy of safety and active healthy lifestyle to carry on in each of us, so remember to be aware when you ride or drive, and I encourage everyone to share the road responsibly,” Haase said. “Thank you all for participating today, and please keep loving your sport. And remember Ralph is watching over you -- so get off the couch, no matter what your age or excuse, and ‘LiveStrong.’”

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