Another Austin Bicyclist is Killed by a Vehicle. Who Will Stop the Car-nage?

Cyclist Dies, No One Goes to Jail.  Again.

The local newspaper reported yesterday, February 15, 2018, that “Bicyclist found lying injured in Southeast Austin yard was likely hit by car, police say.”  The piece quoted heavily from a statement by the Austin Police Department:

“A bicyclist who died last month was likely struck by a hit-and-run driver.”

The article in the Austin American-Statesman is by breaking news reporter Katie Hall.katie hall  It goes on to say:

“Leonel Hernandez, 58, was found around 10:40 a.m. Jan. 29, lying in a yard in the 4800 block of Teri Road in Southeast Austin. He had “significant trauma to his head.”

“Witnesses reported seeing him dragging a damaged bicycle just before he collapsed.”

And it concludes sadly:

“Based on the preliminary investigation, detectives believe Hernandez was likely struck by a vehicle.”

“He died two days later at a local hospital.”

(The Austin American-Statesman article is copyrighted 2018 Cox Media Service, all rights reserved.)

A Dude Abikes’ Analyzes This Vehicular Manslaughter

Several things are worth noting in this case, particularly the demographics.

  1. white ghost bikeThis street has no bike lanes, at least from the latest Google Maps image.  It does have a wide shoulder that cars park in, and a sidewalk.  But poor infrastructure is a leading cause of bicycle versus car accidents.  Will the city put in a Leonel Hernandez Memorial bike lane because of this accident?  No, but they should.  But it will probably take other accidents to do that.  (It’s possible this street is already due for bike lanes, however.)  A white ghost bike may appear as a tribute and memorial, but that does very little to change drivers’ behavior.
  2. The bicyclist died from head trauma, indicating he was probably not wearing a bicycle helmet.  People don’t wear helmets usually due to lack of income and education about the importance of protecting one’s head.  Sometimes it is a lifestyle choice.  He may not have survived the wreck with a helmet, but he may well have.  I belive the City of Austin Public Health and Active Transportation Departments, Travis County, Central Health, Texas Health and Human Services Commission and Department of Transportation, hospitals, bike helmet manufacturers, bike shops, insurance companies and many more should partner together to provide free helmets and bike lights to every low-income adult in the area who wants one.
  3. The rider was an older Latino male — not the stereotypical white guy in Spandex on a group ride.  But he was seen by witnesses as “dragging his bike just before he collapsed.”  So he did not call for help either because he either did not have a cell phone or was likely in shock and did not realize the extent of his injuries.  In any case, there were witnesses, but nobody stopped to help him.  This is disgraceful. (Although someone “found” him and called 911, so he was eventually taken to the hospital, but too late to save his life.)

    please be kind to bicyclists.png
    This Austin non-profit distributes bumper stickers at www.bekindtocyclists.org
  4. It was mid-morning on a Monday.  Traffic may have been busy, but it was after rush hour.  So either the bicyclist made a mistake and veered into traffic, or more likely, the vehicle driver was distracted by texting or something else and veered into the cyclist.  I deduce that by the fact that it was a hit and run, it was not the cyclist’s fault.  Why hasn’t the Austin Police Department made any arrests in this case?  Are they even investigating it?  What if anything is Vision Zero ATX doing anything about this murder, or any other vehicular assaults, besides just having meetings and releasing statistics?
  5. It took him two days to die.  I can’t imagine the pain he must have felt, if he was even conscious.  Nothing was mentioned of family or friends being notified.  Is there any follow-up, memorial, or fund set up?  Do you have to be a young, white, well-known racer like Tommy Ketterhagen to have attention be paid?

What Will It Take to Have Zero Deaths?

Obviously, A Dude is pissed anytime a car driver kills a bicyclist.  I take it very personally.  It could be me the next time, or any one of the thousands of cyclists in this town.  We can do better, people.  I don’t know how.  But we must do better.  Writing this blog post is but a drop in the ocean.  A tear drop.

Meanwhile, 50 bike cops got better helmets with face masks donated to protect them “from protesters,” according to a story on TV station KVUE.

apd bike gear.jpg
As long as Austin Police Department bicycle officers have helmets to protect themselves from protestors and parties, that’s all that matters, right?

Esto es para Leonel Hernadez.  ꜟPresente!

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© 2015-18 A Dude Abikes.  All rights reserved.

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I Rode My Bike Trainer for 60 Minutes at 17 Miles Per Hour, but Those 17 People Shot in Florida Are Still Dead

Guns Don’t Kill People, the National Rifle Association Does

A Dude Abikes does not live in a vacuum.  That would be weird, dark and gross and would literally suck.  OK, that’s a bad pun about a literal vacuum.  I don’t watch much TV news, but the heartbreaking information that 15 kids and two teachers were shot to death on Valentine’s Day by a former student at a high school in southern Florida still made it to me.  There’s not alot I can add to the debate over guns.  So I will do my thing and write about my day using a bike trainer.  But I do so with a heavy heart and deep awareness that perspective is key and believe that attention must be paid to this national disgrace.

charles whitman
Charles Whitman as a boy — with rifles.  Source

Someone recently advised me to not write about politics, I don’t know if it’s because they didn’t like mine or what.  But I say that’s BS, because the gun issue is important.  While “you may not care about politics, politics cares about you,” to paraphrase the French philosopher Voltaire.

If you’re wondering why this is relevant, well, the first mass school shooting in the United States of America happened right here in Austin, Texas.  On August 1, 1966, a guy with a tumor in his brain climbed to the top of the University of Texas tower and for 96 minutes of terror, rained death down on the campus with a rifle.  Guess how many Charles Whitman killed?  Coincidentally, 17.
Continue reading

Thoughts and Images from my Second Day in the Hill Country

Today began early with several alarms rousting me from too short a slumber.  I got myself going and drove through rush hour and a thick fog to my appointment.  Afterward, I collected some things including a rear-view helmet mirror and some extra inner tubes from Sun & Ski Sports.  I dutifully walked the dog, we napped, and then we went to a park by the lake and walked around there.  I did some other stuff but now am writing this.  What follows are some photos and words about another day in the life of A Dude Abikes. Continue reading

A Cabin, a Canine and a Car: A Week in the Woods to Write

A Dude learned an important lesson about posting to WordPress today:  don’t go back and forth between your cell phone and your computer.  While trying to upload photos, my whole post was deleted.  It was going to win me a blogging award, no doubt.  JK.  But now I have to try to re-create it from memory late at night.  Which isn’t going to happen for the most part.  Oy, how I suffer for my art!  Such is life.  Let’s move on. Continue reading

Replacing My Brakes at Austin Yellow Bike Project

Tonight I took my old Fuji bicycle to the free community shop, Austin Yellow Bike Project. The brakes were very worn, which I consider a point of pride, because it means I’ve ridden my bike a shit ton of miles.  That’s right, I used a curse word. So sue me! I’m just trying to spice things up a bit. Actually, please don’t sue me. Normally A Dude Abikes is a family friendly blog.  We still have free speech here in ‘Merrikuh, don’t we?  But biking 10,000 miles in two years was so much work, one swear word doesn’t even begin to do that justice.  Anyway, YBP is cool, so let me tell you about it. Continue reading

Lessons from My First Ride on the Mag Ascent Home Trainer

Overview

I finally fixed my flat and put the old Fuji Silhouette on the heavy Mag Ascent home trainer. Below is a shot of my GPS data on Strava. I went for 15.2 miles per hour for half an hour, which isn’t great but it is a ilttle faster than usual. I had it set on the lowest of three resistance levels, and usee the gears to get a slightly harder workout. The trainer is heavy steel so is not going anywhere. All you need is to fit the rear wheel correctly into slots, which is very intuitive at least with my bike, then prop up the front wheel; I used books. Overall it was sturdy, easy to get started on, and it doesn’t take up alot of room. Continue reading

A Dude Abikes Likes: 5 Legal, Natural and Safe Products to Help You on Long-Distance Bicycle Rides

There are few topics in cycling, at least professional, that are more perennial than doping, the use of performance-enhancing drugs.  Especially in Austin.  Need I say more?  I think not.  (If you’re confused, read this.)  The good news is that there are plenty of legal and safe substances that non-professional riders have tried to make the rigors of long-distance bicycling more tolerable and less damaging to our bodies.  Forthwith and posthaste, here are five of A Dude Abikes’ favorite over the counter sports aids.  DISCLAIMER:  While someone who used to know me called me Dr. Feelgood, I am not a physician, so please check with an actual medical doctor or nutritionist before taking anything new. Continue reading