The other day I wrote about the third bicyclist fatality in Austin, Texas this year. News reports finally shared his name, Anthony Wayne Williams.
A Preventable Tragedy?
It’s tragic he died, but it’s also hard to hear that he ran the red light and crossed a very busy and dangerous intersection where he got hit. Allegedly. That may just be what the car driver told the police and they accepted that as the truth. Maybe there were videos, we don’t know. It was broad daylight at 1:00 o’clock in the afternoon. The driver honked and then stopped and so most likely won’t be charged. Anthony succumbed to his injuries at the hospital and died there. This is according to the article in the Austin American-Statesman.
I happen to be borrowing a car lately and passed by the intersection. I asked someone about it but they didn’t know. Although I didn’t see anything, I’ve biked there myself and it is very speedy. There is no margin for error with the drivers around there. You do not want to take any chances. Was he impaired in any way? Have vision or hearing problems? Maybe was just slow moving and slow to react?
Vision Zero adds his age (37) and race (African-American). In another weird coincidence, the first fatality was named (John) Anthony, too. I’ve asked this rhetorical question before: Does race or socioeconomic status make you invisible to many people in the bike community? If you can’t afford a helmet, good bike, lights, etc. are you no less deserving of protected bike lanes? Do utility riders, if he was one, need outreach and education about what to do and what not to do? How can we prevent more bike deaths?
Ghost Bike, Ride of Silence, Media, Bike Lanes
I’ve suggested all three of these things to a few people, so maybe something will come of it. But I keep wondering, if Anthony had the resources and training, he might have been able to avoid the wreck. The refrain is not unfamiliar: you have to deal with family, you want to honor their memory but maybe it’s too soon or you don’t know how to. And like I said, maybe it was not his fault. Either way, it’s tragic.
For me the thing would be to make it matter by adding signage or providing bike infrastructure, education and lighting and helmets where necessary. And remind drivers to drive the speed limit and be defensive. In the end, a family has lost a son to traffic violence aka car-nage. We can do better to keep it from happening again. Even though we’ve lost three people this year, it’s three too many. We should do better. We must.
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