At 2:25 am on Monday, December 16, 2019, Merry Daye, a black woman aged 45 and a male were riding their bikes south on Cameron Road. Her bike had a trailer, and she was working on it while in the bike lane. The man was on the sidewalk. A silver Dodge Ram truck (the irony of the name is not lost on me) veered into the bike lane, crashing into Merry, bike and trailer. The truck then did a hit and run and left the scene. Emergency medical services was called and came to the crash site. They found Merry without a pulse, but were able to restore her heartbeat. She was transported to the hospital where she died. For her, family and friends, it will be Christmas without Merry. Sources: CBS Austin, KXAN, Austin Police Department
There But For Fortune, Go You or I
I didn’t know her, but I’m heartbroken for her. Although it’s still safer to bike than it is to walk or drive, it’s another tragic and preventable loss of life of a cyclist. She’ll never get to live the rest of her life while the driver is alive and free, for the moment. Follow-up news says that the truck was located and abandoned. The crash is still under investigation. When I went by the crash site there was green paint where the crime scene unit marked various points, and there was still debris. (Pictures forthcoming.)
This tragedy strikes close to home for me — quite literally, because until three months ago, I was living not even 300 yards from the place where this young woman lost her life. The crash probably would have woken me up. I ride this street all the time. It could have been me, although I would like to think that I would not be biking at that hour or stopped in a bike lane. It was not her fault that the driver broke the law by hitting her and then broke it again by leaving the scene.
There are questions: What on earth she was doing stopped in the bike lane working on a trailer at that hour? That one is beyond me. Why did the driver veer into the bike lane? Was he or she impaired? Why haven’t the police caught them yet? She was in her right to be there, and should not have been hit and left to die. But a thin strip of white paint — that is fading — was not enough to save her. Will any improvements come from this?
What’s also mind-blowing is that just two days prior, I spent three hours volunteering with Bike Austin to ask businesses to support PROTECTED bike lanes on this very road. I worked hard on this campaign when the group had staff. A few of us got together to try to build support for better infrastructure, because it is a very dangerous road. This is the only section that has bike lanes until recently. The even more dangerous northern section (called Dessau, but the same road), now also has unprotected lanes.
I will post more about this sad story when more details become available. Perhaps we will have a white ghost bike and a ride of silence, but so far, no organization is stepping up to do it. And because of the Mary Harris “Mother Jones” quote “Pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living,” the rest of this post is an action statement from BikeAustin.org. If you live in Austin, please TAKE ACTION and SHARE WITH FRIENDS.
Help Win Protected Bike Lanes on 6+ Miles of Cameron / Dessau Rd
AUSTIN RESIDENTS ONLY: “Take the City of Austin Cameron/Dessau survey and tell the City: “I want protected bike lanes and pedestrian improvements on Cameron/Dessau!“ (The City will use this survey to make its decision so please take a minute to complete it.)
Sign up for updates on the City’s Cameron/Dessau page
Fresh from our Shoal Creek victory, here’s another huge opportunity: Protected bike lanes and pedestrian improvements on over SIX MILES of Cameron/Dessau Rd!
Cameron/Dessau Rd between 51st Street and Parmer Lane is a fast, dangerous 6-lane arterial that puts people on bicycles and walking at risk every day. Just in 2019 alone, three people (NOTE: pedestrians or people in cars, not including the woman cyclist) were killed on Cameron/Dessau; an appalling and preventable loss of life. We need to fix Cameron/Dessau urgently before more people are injured or killed on this crucial north-south route. Rather than being a frightening nightmare, Cameron/Dessau could and should be a great place for bicycling and walking.
Winning protected bike lanes on Cameron/Dessau (the blue line) would be a huge victory for several reasons. Firstly, it would open a new important north-south path in an underserved area of town almost completely lacking decent bike lanes. The route would connect north Austin to Mueller, a popular shopping destination for folks up north. Connections from Mueller to downtown are more comfortable than in north Austin, so winning Cameron/Dessau would essentially create a great route all the way from Parmer to downtown and beyond!
And what about you Big Loop fans (hopefully all of you!)? Cameron/Dessau would connect to the conceptual Big Loop (see yellow, green, and black lines), a big section of which we accomplished in 2019 by winning Shoal Creek (yellow line). And Cameron/Dessau would also come close to the Red Line Parkway, a proposed bike-walk path along the Cap Metro Red Line from downtown up to Leander.
These are exciting times. Protected bike lanes and pedestrian improvements, including better access to transit stops, on Cameron/Dessau between 51st St and Parmer Ln would make a currently badly neglected part of town safe, comfortable, and fun for people of all ages and abilities to bike, walk, and take public transportation.
In 2019, you, along with thousands of Austin residents and hundreds of local businesses and organizations, helped us win protected bike lanes, protected intersections, and new crosswalks on Shoal Creek. YOU showed what power there is in numbers and with your help we’ll do it again.” –Bike Austin
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