I haven’t done one of these roundups in a while. Because, coronavirus. My last one was in May. Inspired somewhat by BikingInLA and TexBiker.net, a roundup hopes to serve up some useful tidbits of happenings around town in the bicycling world here in Austin. Sometimes, it’s news about infrastructure, not so sexy, but important. And other times it’s even sobering and sad, like the senseless suffering and death of a cyclist who was hit by a car (the first of 2020).
I suppose that last one is fitting, given that it’s the 75th anniversary of Hiroshima Dayand Nagasaki Day on the 9th. These tragic attacks remind us that the United States is the other country to ever use nuclear weapons, at great human cost. A Dude says nukes must be abolished before we can ever have peace. There’s a treaty that only 40 countries have signed and shamefully, the US in not one of them. Alright, sermon concluded. On with the way more fun and much less important Austin bike news!
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.
While I am off the bike for a few days, not really by choice, I’m searching for something to blog about. At least I’m getting some rest. Maybe I’ll try a stationary bike or try to ride anyway. I’m tempted to take a rest day from blogging, too, but obviously I’m not. What follows is a rather random brain dump of bike stuff. Just one by itself isn’t enough for a single blog, but together they add up to one. I think it’s interesting, so maybe you will too.
This sad news came across my screen, and I just sat and stared at it. She was 28 years old, hit by a car Thursday night. Now, gone. The details are scant and will trickle in. Here’s an updated story from the NBC affiliate, KXAN: “Cyclists push for change after fatal MLK Blvd crash.” The story says she wasn’t wearing a helmet and the car driver stayed on the scene. Despite this tragedy, riding a bike in Austin is still very safe compared to driving and walking. That won’t help Jessica, but maybe it will help others of us who do still bike.
Today was a somber occasion, the ride to remember Anthony John Diaz, run over by a bus on January 28th. I’ve been on a few of these now and it both causes me literal grief, not to mention that another senseless, needless, horrible death of a person on a bike who was doing the right thing simply pisses me off. For some reason, a city bus driver ran over and killed a person riding a bicycle. We don’t know yet if she was overworked, high on drugs or booze, hated cyclists, or what. The place it happened is one I ride a lot and was due to be fixed years ago, but wasn’t.
Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.
It’s hard to follow up my profile of the amazing Dena Kinate. If you missed it, you should go read it right now then come back. But I’m going to try. What comes to mind are miscellaneous bits of information about biking news. I’ll try to make it interesting for those who aren’t in Austin, but no guarantees. (That’s not an invitation to move here like 150 people do a day — or some crazy number like that.)
Anthony “Tony” John Diaz. Source: Change.org petition
The Aftermath of Bike Fatality #1 of 2019
I hoped there might be more of an update about the cyclist killed last week. He was identified as Anthony “Tony” John Diaz, a nice guy who worked at a TV station. The only other update is news reports from witnesses that the bus driver was said to be speeding up and slowing down and generally acting erratically. Drug tests and more information will take a while. There’s also a petition to put a white ghost bike white ghost bike where he died, but the University of Texas threatens to enforce their policy to remove abandoned bikes. And amazingly, his aunt was quoted as saying she forgave the bus driver.
However, that happened two days earlier than advertised, so I missed the chance to go take pictures and talk to staff. Anyway, hopefully brands like Fuji will survive. That’s the maker of my now reitred Silhouette named Sookie. We traveled together about 13,000 miles since summer of 2015. Here is where you can (and must!) read my “interview” with Sookie. Austin is lousy with bike shops, though. Fortunately, the head of the Performance repair department has been swept up by one of my favorite stores, Sun & Ski Sports,
Bike Austin: Rising from the Ashes
I’m not at liberty to say much about what Bike Austin is up to, mostly because it’s not much, and I wasn’t at the last meeting. But I was at a previous one, at which two dozen of notable Austin cycling advocates got together. The call was for an initial group of volunteers to join the four remaining board members to try to reinvigorate the organization. After a number of setbacks and the departure of all its staff, the decision needed to be made: Do we continue the organization? And if so, how?
Fortunately, enough people feel strongly that Austin deserves and needs a strong organization to advocate for safety for cyclists. The plan is to do it as volunteers for now. I hope to be involved as time allows. But it’s encouraging to see that while the website is out of date, the Facebook page is advertising Bike to Work Day.
So, mark your calendars for Friday, May 17, 2019. The day is usually observed by having numerous stations around town with donated drinks and snacks for bike commuters. There’s also a contest for those who can visit the most stations, collecting stamps, with a party and prizes afterward. I volunteered with the afterparty last year and had alot of fun. Let’s hope it happens this year, too.
Biking Slower, but I’m Still Going
The massses aren’t exactly clamoring for my own personal news, but I’m including my training log for the last 35 days just for fun. I had a slowdown this week. Tomorrow I see a doctor and maybe he’ll have some idea why this seems to have been going on for some time now. Sure, I’m averaging 105.5 miles/week, but it’s been taking me a longer period of time for a while. Some of that is due to the winter cold, wind and rain. Part of it was a pretty strong cedar fever reaction that turned into a chest cold and sinus congestion if not infection, the last vestiges of which (I hope) I’m still fighting off. There’s also that big-boned bike gal named Sophie who is er, slower than the more svelt Sookie who as mentioned is now retired due to a crack. Saturday, I slept for over 10 hours, but last night I was back to my old tricks of burning the candle at both ends Maybe there’s just a sleep deficit that will take time to correct. And with no rest days off the bike since December 25th, I am due for some serious rest and relaxation. But I have places to go and things to do, and so there’s no rest for the wicked. Speaking of sleep, good night!
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I’m sitting outside a 7-11 late on a Wednesday, just down the street from the huge football stadium on the University of Texas campus. It’s where a cyclist, aged 39, with a helmet and lights on both the front and back of his bike, was hit, dragged under and trapped by a Capital Metro bus Monday night. It was there that he died. I just learned about this horrible tragedy tonight, and so I biked over here – a place I ride by regularly. I’m mad and sad, yet relieved it was not me. Because it could have been me. That doesn’t help Anthony, his friends, family and others who knew him. Continue reading →
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.