by JADE MINGUS / KVUE News
Posted on May 3, 2012
Updated May 4, 2012
AUSTIN — More than 1,000 cyclists are expected to gather at Austin City Hall to remember two recent crashes in the Austin area involving cyclists and cars.
Evan Baird was hit by a driver near the University of Texas on April 23. Witnesses say the driver left the scene and left Baird to die. He is now recovering from multiple injuries at University Medical Center Brackenridge.
On Saturday April 29, a motorist struck and killed 54-year-old Verter Ginestra as he was riding on Loop 360.
Thursday night cyclists are riding to remember the cyclists and fight for change. It’s called Pedaling for Safer Roads. The demonstration ride will start at City Hall and end at the State Capitol. The group’s goal is to send a message to lawmakers and ask for better infrastructure for cyclists, more safety awareness, and create laws protecting cyclists.
The Austin Police Department also announced a new initiative to keep the roads safer. Every day a group of dedicated officers will patrol high-problem areas to look for problem cyclists, problem drivers, and even problem pedestrians.
“We are going to make sure people are held accountable for the bad habits that are dangerous to them and others,” said APD Highway Enforcement Commander Jason Dusterhoft.
So far, officers have written more than 600 tickets and 300 warnings.
Avid cyclist Al Bastidas was involved in a car versus bicycle collision and underwent multiple surgeries and years of recovery. He continues to ride and started the group Please BE KIND to Cyclists in an effort to promote safety and unity in Austin among drivers and cyclists.
“The community embraced it, and it became what it is today,” said Bastidas.
Bastidas put a camera on his bicycle to give a cyclists’ perspective of South Lamar. He rode in the bike lane, and large trucks drove dangerously close.
In the city of Austin, drivers must give cyclists three feet of clearance when they pass them. Commercial vehicles must give six feet of clearance.
Collisions involving bicycles are up nearly 18 percent from 2010 to 2011.
The APD initiative is cracking down on cyclists who ignore the rules of the road too. KVUE cameras caught one cyclist running three stop signs in a row in downtown Austin.
“A cyclist is much more vulnerable than a driver. So they are going to have to make sure they are 20 times more cautious,” said Commander Dusterhoft.