SAN JOSE (KPIX) -- Hundreds of cyclists joined a memorial ride for Ellen Le on Sunday, one week after she was struck and killed by an SUV while participating in an organized ride with a Santa Clara County bicycle club. Sunday's event honored her memory and organizers hoped to bring more awareness around the issue of road safety.
"I think the world lost a very beautiful soul," said Dzung Dang, president of the Xe Dap Viet Cycling Club. He was on the ride with Ellen Le the day she died. "Ellen is just a wonderful person. Beloved friend and a very strong cyclist. We will miss her a lot."
Organizers of Sunday's memorial ride made 300 yellow ribbons for cyclists to wear as they rode. Those who knew her best remembered her as a kind person who not only loved the sport but wanted to help others to enjoy cycling as well.
"Ellen is a, like, a long-lost cousin. We both came from Vietnam, having the same last name," said Tony Le, past president of the Almaden Cycle Touring Club. "We were going to take some time to figure if we indeed were related and we thought we would have plenty of time ... and now we lost Ellen."
As a volunteer, she was known as someone who helped expand the reach of cycling. Her death is a reminder about the dangers of the road, an issue cycling advocates say must be better addressed because thousands of cyclists are killed each year.
"I would like everyone to remember Ellen, because she was very energetic, happy, passionate and she wanted everyone to know how to ride, especially women. She was an amazing volunteer," said Violeta Palatto with the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition. "We need to make better bike lanes, better infrastructure, better roads to make it safer for all our families and our children."
The California Highway Patrol reported that Le was hit by head-on by an SUV as she was riding in a remote part of Santa Clara County. Cyclists at the memorial on Sunday who were familiar with the area said the winding road where Le died requires extreme caution and drivers to travel at much slower speeds.
"I think speed kills. We know that, people who drive way too fast," Tony Le told KPIX. "Ellen is a wonderful person in every way. She will slow down to the slowest riders and compete with the fastest in uphill and downhill."
Le will be remembered as an enthusiastic woman who was generous, her friends said.
"The roadway is built now toward automobile-centric. We need a paradigm shift so people -- it should be people-centric," Dang told KPIX. "Gone far too soon, (she) was taken away from us."
for more features.