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Austin Bicycling Community Rides To Honor The Memory Of One Of Their Own
Walkers and bikers beware! Some Austin streets might just be too dangerous for you. A map (see above) shows what could be the most dangerous roads in the city, plotting out where this year’s 28 pedestrian fatalities and three bicyclist fatalities have happened.
Already, 2012 ranks as the deadliest year for pedestrians and cyclists in Austin's history.
The most recent accident happened earlier this month when a driver who police say was driving drunk hit and killed Cody Johnson while he was riding his bike home from work on Riverside Drive. Johnson is the third bicyclist in as many months to be hit from behind by the driver of a car.
Thursday night, hundreds of bicyclists held a memorial ride for Johnson and pedaled for safer roads. In an effort to get noticed and keep cars from rear-ending bikes, 500 lights were handed out to cyclists. At times, the memorial ride resembled a festival of lights.
“I do things to get noticed,” said bicyclists Chad Yokum. “I always keep my front light on a strobe instead of a regular beam, and I have a blinking light on the back.”
Chad Yokum takes getting noticed while on his bicycle to another level.
“I even put wheel lights on,” he said. The wheel lights come in different colors and make different designs. They can even be programmed to spell out words. “They just make a lot of bright light.”
Yokum just rides his bike for fun, but he isn’t taking any chances when it comes to safety. In fact, there are streets he avoids all together on his bike, including Riverside Drive.
“I just ride on the sidewalks,” said Yokum. “I know it's not legal, but I'm not about to put my bike on that street. It's just too dangerous.”
A map showing the location where pedestrians and cyclist have been killed so far this year also highlights the areas around Lamar Boulevard, where eight fatalities have happened.
“This year it's been a bit unusual,” said Preston Tyree of the number of bicyclists and pedestrian fatalities.
As the numbers of deaths continues to climb, bicyclists like Preston Tyree are pushing education and awareness to create safer roads.
“Cyclists belong on the road. Motorists belong on the road. We have to share,” Tyree stressed.
Hundreds of bikers joined Tyree and Yokum on a slow ride down Congress Avenue ending at the state capital. It was a ride to remember those lost and an effort to make 2013 a safer year on Austin's streets.
By Karen Kiley