Age 49 (Tue. April 18, 2006, Loop 360 )
Yesterday was a dark day for cycling in Austin. Unfortunately, it was bound to happen sooner or later. Whether or not anyone wants to believe it, this area is not in the slightest a bike friendly environment.
What you should all be aware of is that in this particular instance TxDOT is very aware of the danger at both the 360/Bee Caves intersection and at the 360/2222 intersection. I know this because I was run over at the 360/2222 intersection a little over a year ago...
Following my accident I conducted an active dialog with TxDOT and with the City of Austin....
I requested that signs be posted at the 360/2222 intersection on the ramps to make drivers aware that they needed to yield to cyclists...I made this request in formal letters to a Mr. Robert Daigh, who is the TxDOT district manager fro Austin, and received a response, again in a formal letter that there was a safety study being conducted regarding the signage and that they would apprise me of the progress of that study as it was being prosecuted.
Of course this was a load of B.S. after several requests for status I have never received a copy of the study or been told what the outcome was...this is very germane to yesterdays events as the spray paint marks on the pavement at the Bee Caves accident could have been almost exactly transposed with the ones at my accident..
For all of us who ride the Austin area, it is obvious, that while TxDOT pays a lot of lip service to accommodating cyclists in its planning, the reality is that it does not go much past the pretty pictures that they placate the ACA with at the annual meetings...
In fact shoulders have been eliminated wholesale along the Dam Loop route and on 71 where the ATC ride runs Saturday AM...In addition the construction and re-striping that has occurred at the 71/620 intersection has made that stretch of road significantly more dangerous for cyclists. In this case I spoke with the engineer responsible for the re-striping and challenged him to come ride that stretch of road with me. He of course, declined....
I don't know where all of this leads other than that sadly, as I told the TxDOT folks last year, it was gonna take someone getting killed before they got off their fat asses and did something...now that day is here....
Now I know that many of you will respond about how you get on your bike at your own risk, and I agree with that....but there is a give and take and we can and should have a reasonable expectation that as tax payers, there is a consideration given to broader issues of the concept of shared use..other states do a pretty good job of this, why cant Texas...
My question to all of you is this: what next? With the growth of the Austin area this situation is only going to get worse..it seems to me that those responsible at TxDOT for assuring the safety of what they refer to as "shared use" facilities should loose their jobs over something like this...
I lost a lot of sleep over this last night...it brought back the memory of lying in the hospital thanking god that I would be able to see my kids again...it is difficult to stomach the idea that there is a family out there that lost a wife and/or mother to this type of accident....
This really truly sucks....we need to do something.....for my part I am seriously considering handing over all of my document trail to the news folks and letting them chase down the folks at TxDOT, but then again, I wonder if that would even matter or make any difference since TxDOT as currently structured is essentially accountable to no-one.....
Cyclist who died was training for charity ride
Family remembers Gay Simmons-Posey as a giving person.
By Claire Osborn, American-Statesman staff, cosborn(at)statesman.com; 445-3871
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
When Gay Simmons-Posey didn't return from her Monday bike ride for hours, her husband said he became concerned.
Ron Posey said he called his wife's cell phone three times and got no answer. He got in his car at their home in the Courtyard subdivision just north of Lake Austin and started driving the route along Capital of Texas Highway (Loop 360) that she usually rode, he said.
"I saw the traffic blocked off, and I started getting sick to my stomach because I knew what had happened," Posey, 40, said.
He found out that his wife, also 40, had been struck and killed by a car that had fled the scene. Authorities were still looking for the driver of the car, which they think was gray or silver and might have front-end damage.
Simmons-Posey was riding north on Loop 360 about 12:30 p.m. when she crossed the exit ramp for Bee Cave Road, said Tela Mange, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Public Safety.
As she was crossing the ramp, she had her left arm extended, apparently to show that she planned to continue riding north on Loop 360, Mange said.
A trailer hauled by a van swerved and clipped her, Mange said. Simmons-Posey fell off her bike and was hit by another vehicle headed north on Loop 360, Mange said. The driver of the van stopped, but the second driver did not, Mange said.
Posey said he and his wife were training to ride in the BP MS 150 Bike Tour from Houston to Austin this weekend.
They had done the ride for several years, as well as other rides for charity. Simmons-Posey was passionate about bicycling and wasn't worried about her safety, her husband said.
"She expressed concern about my safety," he said.
Simmons-Posey was a human resources manager for Activant Solutions, her husband said.
The couple was planning a vacation in Spain in May and had been taking Spanish lessons to prepare, he said.
Simmons-Posey grew up in Louisiana and graduated with a political science degree from Southern Methodist University, her relatives said.
A good photographer and painter, she was very athletic and devoted to her family, one of her brothers said.
"She comforted me and encouraged me and was a very good sister," Chad Simmons said.
She almost died after she was ejected from her car in a collision in 1992 in Dallas, he said. She couldn't have children after the wreck and had to have her spleen removed, Simmons said.
"Her doctors told us she could not and would not live, so I kept praying for a miracle," said her mother, Annette Turner.
Turner said she was scared by the bike rides her daughter did, and told her so.
"She said, 'Well, Mother, there is an element of danger, but you just have to do the things you love to do,' " Turner recalled.
She liked doing charity rides because she wanted to do things for other people, her mother said.
"Gay always said, 'If I go through life and have not contributed something to society, I will have to consider life a failure,' " Turner said.
Debbie Collins, one of Simmons-Posey's cousins, said Gay was never afraid to tackle problems and work through them.
"One of her favorite sayings was 'Life is not about the breaths you take but the moments that take your breath away,' " Collins said.
Anyone with information about the car that left the scene is asked to call the Department of Public Safety at 997-4131.
Woman's death jolts cycling community
Loop 360, a major cyclist's route, can be dangerousBy Pamela LeBlanc, American-Statesman staff
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
...The accident drew particular attention because it took place at midday, on a roadway considered one of the premier training routes in the city, and it involved an experienced rider. It happened during the height of cycling season in Central Texas, just a week before roughly 13,000 cyclists will roll into the city as they finish the MS 150 Bike Tour from Houston to Austin on Sunday.
...Gay Simmons-Posey was killed by a hit-and-run driver Monday while on a training ride on Loop 360 near Bee Cave Road. It was the first fatal bicycle accident in Austin this year and the fourth in the past two years. Austin police recorded one fatal bicycle accident in 2003-04.
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