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It's been a bad 3 weeks on Houston streets

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It's been a bad 3 weeks on Houston streets

Old 06-19-15, 11:50 AM
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68venable
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It's been a bad 3 weeks on Houston streets

Three Houston Area Cyclists Killed in Three Weeks

Three Houston Area Cyclists Killed in Three Weeks | Houston Press

Richard Tomlinson and his group Houston Ghost Bike post memorial bicycles to mark every spot where a Houston area driver has hit and killed a cyclist. When Tomlinson started the group a couple years ago, he’d hoped to raise awareness, to get more motorists to safely share the road with cyclists and, eventually, to see local bike fatality stats fall.

But lately cyclists are dying on the roads faster than he can get the painted-white ghost bikes out to crash sites. It could be a while before he chains a ghost bike out on the corner of Antoine and Long Point, where an Isuzu box truck ran over a cyclist Monday evening.

“We still have another bike to set up before we can even get to that one out at Antoine,” Tomlinson said.

One recent national survey of major metro areas shows that on average five cyclists die in crashes on Houston streets every year. But cycling advocates say the crash at Antoine caps an alarming spate of recent cycling deaths, with three cyclists hit and killed by Houston area drivers in just three weeks.

The first was cyclist David Rosenfeld, who in late May was hit by a car in Bellaire near the corner of Bissonnet and Newcastle. Rosenfeld had been biking to a memorial ride for Jon Trevelise, another cyclist hit and killed by a Galveston driver last spring. It’s unclear if any charges will be filed against the driver (Sgt. Daniel Kerr, the Bellaire PD officer investigating the crash, wasn’t available to talk Wednesday).

Another cyclist was hit and killed while trying to cross the road the 4300 block of South Post Oak Road on June 5. Police say the driver had the right of way and charges aren’t expected (the victim’s identity wasn’t clear Wednesday).

Then this past Monday, a white Isuzu truck ran over a cyclist after both were stopped at a red light at Antoine and Long Point. (Comments posted to this northwest cycling club Facebook page identify the victim as Dan Hertweck.)

“The driver remained at the scene and told responding HPD officers he did not see the bicyclist either at the light or when he drove through the intersection,” according to an HPD statement. Police spokeswoman Jodi Silva says the investigation is ongoing. If more serious charges aren’t filed, it's possible the driver will be cited for violating the city’s safe passing ordinance, which requires drivers give cyclists at least three feet of space when passing.

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Still, numbers HPD and municipal court provided the Press last month show that the city’s safe passing ordinance is hardly ever enforced, despite the fact that collisions involving cyclists are a daily occurrence in Houston. Between May 2013, when city leaders passed the three-foot safe passing ordinance, and April 2015 there were at least 950 crashes involving cyclists just within Houston city limits, with at least 213 hit-and-runs involving cyclists during that time. Yet only eight drivers have been handed citations for violating the city’s safe passing ordinance.

Cycling advocates like Tomlinson insist that if the city did more to enforce the ordinance, Houston area drivers might more safely share the road with cyclists. “When you’re in a car and you hit another car from behind, it’s almost automatic you’ll be cited with failure to control speed,” he said. “If you hit a cyclist, all you have to say is ‘I didn’t see him.’ That’s what happened at Antoine.”
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Old 06-19-15, 04:26 PM
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Indeed it has been a terrible time. I do not ride in the areas where these happened but that doesn't mean it could not.
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Old 06-21-15, 05:43 PM
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I try to stay out of houston except for 1 ride a month. I skipped it this month... it fell on the 4th week and i am superstitious.
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Old 07-05-15, 08:20 AM
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To my knowledge, Houston's city legal folks have still not issued a document with the proper, legal wording for tickets to be written for violating the safe passing ordinance. As tickets must be written with the exact wording to stand up in court, this is a problem. (I may have missed it.) Perhaps this violation is in the menu of the new electronic ticket gadgets, but most officers have not yet been trained to use them. I will ask one of the officers I know, who has been trained to use the electronic ticket gadgets.

To be clear, I may have missed the issuance of instructions on the proper legal wording for these tickets, and I have been out of the loop for several weeks, anyway, so would not know if these three incidents may have prompted any recent action on HPD's part. I am not an official (or unofficial) spokesman for HPD.
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Old 07-15-15, 12:31 PM
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Civil penalties are the only things most drivers will face for hitting and/or killing a cyclist in Texas. If you want to kill somebody in Texas, put them on a bike and run them over. Past history suggests you are VERY unlikely to be charged with a serious crime for hitting a cyclist, even if you kill them while distracted and driving on the shoulder.
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Old 07-17-15, 04:04 PM
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OK, to update my previous post, there is nothing about the Safe Passing Ordinance in the city's electronic ticket gadgets, or, at least, the traffic enforcement officer I know could not find it, by searching for several key words. The Safe Passing Ordinance may have been enacted, but it seems Houston has yet to implement enforcement.
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