Three Decades Since A Dude First Landed, Bikeless, in Austin

March 3, 1991. The first Gulf War had just ended. I was out of college a few years and had been traveling and moving around a bit. I grew weary of that, so I did the logical thing and went home. After a year slinging Southern cooking and helping out dear ma a bit, I bought a lightly used car. I went to one last steak night with my dad and brother, and moved in with a friend in Austin, Texas. Today her eldest turned 22, so I stopped by for a COVID-safe outdoor birthday. People trickled by, and I told one about the mom,“She’s my oldest friend in Austin. Looks pretty good for 85, don’t she?” (She’s much less.) With that history and my anniversary percolating in my brain the last two weeks, I figured it’s time for a little trip down memory lane.

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Come to the Dark Side, Dude: Where’s My Car?

Sixteen years ago, on January 25, 2005, the car I was driving was hit by a truck and was damaged beyond reasonable repair. In the ensuing years, I made do with taking the bus, walking, and bicycling. In fact, I had lived without a car on and off for many years. A whole decade passed before I got serious about cycling; in January of 2015, I began riding longer distances, charity rides, and the like. A year later I had a smart phone, Strava, and a better bicycle. That journey led me to travel the equivalent of around the equator, plus another 1,790 miles as of today (26,691 total). Normally in the space you would find a blog post about my 16th year being car-free, or at least car-light (because I borrowed them). For two reasons, you won’t read that post.

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17-Year Old Cyclist Ran a Stop Sign and Was Killed in Austin on November 9

On a Friday evening in November, just after dark, a young Asian teenager was riding his bike in North Austin. The road dead-ended into a very fast, four-lane road with a median. He made it half-way across, and then for some reason, didn’t stop to yield to traffic that had a speed limit of 60 miles per hour. A blue Toyota hit him, and the driver stayed at the scene. The victim, whose name was Minh-Tan Pham, died later in the hospital. Another young life was extinguished in mere moments due to more traffic violence. He was the 67th traffic fatality on Austin roads in 2018… so far.

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