I have been thinking that it is good news that no more bicyclists have been killed in Austin, Texas since Anthony John Diaz and Jessica Saathoff died earlier this year (which is two too many). Then I did a general search for bicyclist and Austin, and learned this sad news. A man died in the hospital after being hit at a busy intersection of the interstate highway and a regional highway service roads. There is very little information at this point, but it’s important to report and also remember that bicycling, when done carefully and legally, is usually quite safe. Unfortunately not for this victim.
What We Know
News report from KXAN and another channel just say the victim was hit in a crosswalk, the driver stayed and no charges have been filed. That probably means the police determined the bicyclist was at fault, but it’s conjecture at this point. That decision depends on the crime scene investigation, video from cameras, witnesses or the statement of the driver. I imagine the latter included the words “I didn’t see him” or “he just came out of nowhere” and the driver will get off easily with nary a slap on the wrist. Of course if the cyclist was the cause, he will just become another statistic. Except to those who knew and cared about him. Now, he’s just gone.
To me the bike tells a story: knobby tires, no clip in pedals, and the sort of bike that utility riders also known as invisible riders use. These are mostly men without lights or helmets just trying to get to a job or on errands, who aren’t part of any organized bike group. Whether that’s true or not is unclear. But I can definitely tell you from experience that that intersection is dangerous, and if someone misjudges it, or a car runs a yellow or red light or makes a quick right turn without stopping fully, a cyclist could definitely be hit.
What Comes Next
I’ll report more when I know more, but for now, we mourn the loss of another human who through choice or necessity was using a bike, and paid the ultimate price.Whether that will change anything like better signage or safer crossing is doubtful, the cynical side of me says. Any family members will have to deal with their loss. When the Austin Transportation Department just sends out a Twitter image mentioning a road closure due to a crash but without saying a cyclist died, it feels like our lives don’t matter much. But they do, at least to those of us living them. This is the 54th traffic fatality this year, but only a few were cyclists. No more! Ya, basta!
In the end, all we can do is be good riders who are predictable and follow the law as well as common sense. That includes being a defensive rider, walking your bike at crosswalks, and not trusting cars to not run red lights. Apparently charges will not be filed against the driver. I imagine they may need some counseling for killing a person who happened to be on a bike.
Stay frosty out there, my friends. And may the victim — whether he was at fault or not — Rest In Peace.
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