Another Austin Bicyclist is Killed by a Vehicle. Who Will Stop the Car-nage?

Cyclist Dies, No One Goes to Jail.  Again.

The local newspaper reported yesterday, February 15, 2018, that “Bicyclist found lying injured in Southeast Austin yard was likely hit by car, police say.”  The piece quoted heavily from a statement by the Austin Police Department:

“A bicyclist who died last month was likely struck by a hit-and-run driver.”

The article in the Austin American-Statesman is by breaking news reporter Katie Hall.katie hall  It goes on to say:

“Leonel Hernandez, 58, was found around 10:40 a.m. Jan. 29, lying in a yard in the 4800 block of Teri Road in Southeast Austin. He had “significant trauma to his head.”

“Witnesses reported seeing him dragging a damaged bicycle just before he collapsed.”

And it concludes sadly:

“Based on the preliminary investigation, detectives believe Hernandez was likely struck by a vehicle.”

“He died two days later at a local hospital.”

(The Austin American-Statesman article is copyrighted 2018 Cox Media Service, all rights reserved.)

A Dude Abikes’ Analyzes This Vehicular Manslaughter

Several things are worth noting in this case, particularly the demographics.

  1. white ghost bikeThis street has no bike lanes, at least from the latest Google Maps image.  It does have a wide shoulder that cars park in, and a sidewalk.  But poor infrastructure is a leading cause of bicycle versus car accidents.  Will the city put in a Leonel Hernandez Memorial bike lane because of this accident?  No, but they should.  But it will probably take other accidents to do that.  (It’s possible this street is already due for bike lanes, however.)  A white ghost bike may appear as a tribute and memorial, but that does very little to change drivers’ behavior.
  2. The bicyclist died from head trauma, indicating he was probably not wearing a bicycle helmet.  People don’t wear helmets usually due to lack of income and education about the importance of protecting one’s head.  Sometimes it is a lifestyle choice.  He may not have survived the wreck with a helmet, but he may well have.  I belive the City of Austin Public Health and Active Transportation Departments, Travis County, Central Health, Texas Health and Human Services Commission and Department of Transportation, hospitals, bike helmet manufacturers, bike shops, insurance companies and many more should partner together to provide free helmets and bike lights to every low-income adult in the area who wants one.
  3. The rider was an older Latino male — not the stereotypical white guy in Spandex on a group ride.  But he was seen by witnesses as “dragging his bike just before he collapsed.”  So he did not call for help either because he either did not have a cell phone or was likely in shock and did not realize the extent of his injuries.  In any case, there were witnesses, but nobody stopped to help him.  This is disgraceful. (Although someone “found” him and called 911, so he was eventually taken to the hospital, but too late to save his life.)

    please be kind to bicyclists.png
    This Austin non-profit distributes bumper stickers at www.bekindtocyclists.org
  4. It was mid-morning on a Monday.  Traffic may have been busy, but it was after rush hour.  So either the bicyclist made a mistake and veered into traffic, or more likely, the vehicle driver was distracted by texting or something else and veered into the cyclist.  I deduce that by the fact that it was a hit and run, it was not the cyclist’s fault.  Why hasn’t the Austin Police Department made any arrests in this case?  Are they even investigating it?  What if anything is Vision Zero ATX doing anything about this murder, or any other vehicular assaults, besides just having meetings and releasing statistics?
  5. It took him two days to die.  I can’t imagine the pain he must have felt, if he was even conscious.  Nothing was mentioned of family or friends being notified.  Is there any follow-up, memorial, or fund set up?  Do you have to be a young, white, well-known racer like Tommy Ketterhagen to have attention be paid?

What Will It Take to Have Zero Deaths?

Obviously, A Dude is pissed anytime a car driver kills a bicyclist.  I take it very personally.  It could be me the next time, or any one of the thousands of cyclists in this town.  We can do better, people.  I don’t know how.  But we must do better.  Writing this blog post is but a drop in the ocean.  A tear drop.

Meanwhile, 50 bike cops got better helmets with face masks donated to protect them “from protesters,” according to a story on TV station KVUE.

apd bike gear.jpg
As long as Austin Police Department bicycle officers have helmets to protect themselves from protestors and parties, that’s all that matters, right?

Esto es para Leonel Hernandez.  ꜟPresente!

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23 thoughts on “Another Austin Bicyclist is Killed by a Vehicle. Who Will Stop the Car-nage?

  1. Thank you for caring. Rest In Peace Leonel Hernandez 🙏🏻. I am so sorry that no one stopped to help you and it breaks my heart knowing you had to drag yourself and bicycle to safety. I’m so sorry. I wish I could’ve helped you.

    It truly seems that there is an car/pedestrian or cyclist accident every single day in Austin. I really feel that the city should make a big move and mandate jail time or a massive fine for any distracted driver who hits a pedestrian or cyclist. Just the news coverage of such a law could potentially scare drivers into becoming more considerate, attentive and safer drivers.

    We are losing too many people to distracted or impatient drivers as well as drivers who are intentionally breaking the law.

    APD does not seem to be bothered by this. This is so depressing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The statistics are actually only 1-3 cyclists a year get killed by cars. Many more are injured; I don’t know how many pedestrians off the top of my head. You can search for Austin Vision Zero to learn more, on http://www.austintexas.gov . Are you a cyclist in Austin? We should talk! Contact me via gmail if so, same name. Thanks for your comment and sympathy. I wrote about another victim a few days after this one.

      Like

  2. It is truly sad that bikers are not treated with more respect. I had a bike encounter when I first started driving. A biker came flying up in between cars just as the light turned green. He came in my blind spot and I did not see him as I was turning right. Thankfully I was new to driving so I was super cautious when I made the turn and the biker took a tumble over the hood of my car. He wasn’t hurt just pissed off and yelled many expletives at me. As a teen, I just stared at him and tried not to freak out at what just happened. Before anything else could happen he jumped on his bike and rode off. I learned from that incident to always give bikers a wide berth. 30 years later I still have a fear of bikers when I see them on the road. I would be horrified if I ever injured a person. Thank you for making us aware of biker issues so those of us that do not bike can take extra care when we are in our car.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The first thing most drivers say when I say I bike is “This biker did [lists an infraction like yours].” Of course that’s very unsafe what he did and good for you being cautiouks and calm. I don’t condone or excuse stupid moves by cyclists. But consider them as People on Bikes and realize how vulnerable we are, and that shifts the perspective. Most wrecks are car to car, and often people survive. But bike v. car, usually not. They are few bike rides who actually die in Austin each year. Anyway, my point is good defense driving means being prepared for stupid, wrong or just mistaken decisions. Slow down, leave earlier, and treat everyone with courtesy and respect. Thanks for being a good driver!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, thanks for saying that. Hopefully they find and punish the driver. We don’t know the circumstances yet. Fortunately only a few cyclists die each year here, but more than a few get injured. So far, so good for me not getting hit in 13 years.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for your comment. I should point out though that usually only 1-3 people die on bikes per year in Austin. However, many more get hit and injured, some seriously. Many people do not bike at all because a skinny white stripe doesn’t keep people from texting and driving. We are slowly improving the bike lanes, though they must be cleaned more. Too much glass and debris. Too much money spent on police!

    Like

    1. Thank you Siddharth. I hope to get the word out but do not have many followers. It takes a long time to write, add links, photos, edit, etc. That’s horrible you saw a bike accident. Where? Curious, how did you find my blog? If you bike, I hope you will keep reading, and be safe!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t bike much but of course, seeing a accident is horrible, I saw it on road in front of nearby police station, luckily, no one was harmed much, I follow you, so saw your post on WordPress reader, soon you will also rise up high!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I want to reach 100 followers like you (or 1,000 or more!), but it takes so much time to write. There are millions of good blogs, and sadly I cannot read fast enough or do that all day!

        Like

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