May 16, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Recent cycling deaths in Texas create additional sense of urgency for protecting cyclists.
AUSTIN – Cyclists will join together on Wednesday, May 17 at 7:00pm in 16 cities across Texas to participate in the international Ride of Silence. Friends and family members will ride to commemorate the deaths and injuries to cyclists that have occurred in the past year. The Ride of Silence also raises community awareness about the right of cyclists to use public roadways.
The fourth annual ride underscores the continuing need for legislation that provides cyclists protection from passing motorists. Each year in Texas , 20 law-abiding cyclists are killed by motorists overtaking them in the same direction, and countless other cyclists are injured. This type of bicycle-motor vehicle crash is almost always the fault of the motorist.
State Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) will sponsor the Safe Bicycle Passing Bill in the next legislative session. The proposed legislation requires motorists to give cyclists at least three feet of clearance when passing, six feet for commercial vehicles. Failure to comply would be a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to a $1,000 fine.
Texas Bicycle Coalition supports this legislation because it will provide a defensible argument for cyclists injured or killed while riding legally, allowing aggressive motorists to be prosecuted for injuring or killing cyclists. Currently, prosecutors and victims have no criminal or civil legal recourse against irresponsible and dangerous motorists passing in the same direction.
Examples of fatal crashes caused by passing motorists are the deaths of Gay Simmons-Posey in Travis County in April 2006, Roman Aranda in Washington County in March 2006, Bahram Daneshvar in Gillespie County in February 2005 and Gary Arnold in Collin County in March 2004.
“The most difficult part of my job is consoling the grieving family members of fatally injured cyclists. I have seen the additional pain inflicted when the negligent motorist is not even issued a traffic citation,” said Robin Stallings, Texas Bicycle Coalition Executive Director.
The Ride of Silence was founded by Chris Phelan in Dallas in response to the death of Phelan’s friend, endurance cyclist Larry Schwartz in Collin County in 2003. Schwartz was cycling legally on a rural road near his home when he was hit by the mirror of a passing bus on an empty road and died on impact. The bus driver served no jail time in relation to Schwartz’s death.
Participants in the Ride of Silence are asked to ride no faster than 12 mph and remain silent throughout the ride. The free ride is open to anyone who would like to participate. The 16 Texas cities in which a Ride of Silence is planned include Amarillo , Austin , Beaumont , College Station , Dallas , Fort Worth , Houston (two locations), Huntsville , Lubbock , Mineral Wells, Odessa , San Antonio , Temple , The Woodlands, Waco and Wichita Falls . To learn more about the Ride of Silence, visit www.rideofsilence.org .
Texas Bicycle Coalition is a statewide nonprofit association that advances bicycle access, safety and education in Texas . The Coalition was formed in 1991 to unify the voices of thousands of bicycle enthusiasts, the bicycle industry, Texas bicycle clubs and Texas-based bicycle rides and events. With the support of these members and community partners, the Coalition seeks to develop and steward the future of bicycling in Texas and encourage bicycle use as a healthy and mainstream lifestyle and transportation choice. For more information about Texas Bicycle Coalition, visit www.BikeTexas.org .
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