Even though 2023 just started, it’s already shaping up to be a deadly year on the road for riders. In Harris County, two people on bikes and one person on an electric scooter have been killed in crashes so far. The two most recent incidents involve drivers who police said took off.
The first deadly crash of the year involving a cyclist happened in East Downtown on Jan. 9. Houston police said a speeding motorcycle driver collided with a man on a bicycle on Palmer Street near McKinney Street, killing them both.
Investigators said the motorcycle driver was going very fast, too fast for city streets, when he slammed into the man on the bicycle.
On Jan. 26, a man on an electric bicycle was riding on South Shepherd Drive near West Gray Street in River Oaks when someone hit and killed him, then took off, according to police.
The crash caused the man to lose control of his e-bike and go over the curb, coming to a stop on the sidewalk west of the roadway, HPD said.
Then, on the morning of Jan. 29, HPD said a man riding a rented electric scooter was in the crosswalk at the intersection of Louisiana Street and Pease Street in downtown Houston when someone driving a truck ran a red light, causing the crash.
The driver took off, and officers at the scene said they didn’t have any identifying information.
The most recent data available from TxDOT showed the number of deadly crashes going up each year since 2019 — when 20 cyclists were killed in collisions with cars. In 2021, 23 cyclists were killed. That means we are on pace in 2023 to set a new record.
Joe Cutrufo, the executive director of BikeHouston, is advocating for Houston to become a more bike-friendly city in response to the recent deadly crashes.
“In a city where people speed with reckless abandon and in a city that has been designed for cars and cars only, it would be rolling out projects that help people get around more safely without a car that help people on foot crossing busy streets and help people on a bike get from place to place without having to take their lives into their own hands,” Cutrufo said.
A city ordinance mandates that scooters, bikes, and cars all share the road downtown to help keep people walking on sidewalks safe. Cutrufo said it might not be the best solution for people on two wheels.
Cutrufo plans to address the city council about safety concerns during their meeting Tuesday afternoon.