A lot has changed around Houston since March of 2020. Overall traffic has decreased due to stay-at-home orders and more businesses moving to remote workforces to weather the storm. You would expect a reduction in traffic to result in fewer serious bicycle accidents. Unfortunately, bicycle accident fatalities are still a monthly occurrence in Houston. A Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., bicycle accident attorney did a recent review of local news articles revealing that many of these are night and often they involve intoxicated drivers.
Historical Numbers of Auto vs Bicycle Accidents
According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, 160 cyclists were killed in auto-bicycle accidents from 2009-2018. That is a rate of about 1 per month. However, 2017 saw 22 of those, and 2018 saw 19 which could be indicative of an overall upward trend.
Recent Survey of News Reports of Bicycle Accidents
March 15, 2020
Shortly after the pandemic started affecting people’s liberty in Houston, there was a hit-and-run accident resulting in the death of a man pushing a bicycle across the road near the 8900 block of West FM 1960 and Bypass Road in Humble, TX. The accident happened around 10 p.m. The man was reported to have been hit and drug by a Chevy Pickup before the truck fled the scene. The driver was chased down and arrested for DWI, child endangerment, and failure to stop and render aid. He will likely face charges of negligent homicide for the death of the bicyclist.
April 14, 2020
Just under a month after the first hit-and-run bicycle accident, another bike rider was killed in a hit-and-run crash in northeast Harris County. Around 10:30 p.m., rider Eddie Harrison was hit by a car traveling west in the outside lane of 1100 FM 1960. The driver of the vehicle did not stop.
June 20, 2020
Around 5:35 a.m. Saturday morning, a group of bicycle riders was crossing the southbound feeder of West Loop 610 at North Braeswood Blvd. when a car ran over one of the riders–Randy Washington, The car then fled the scene. Reports say Washington was ahead of the pack when hit. The cyclist died as a result of his injuries.
June 21, 2020
Another bicycle hit-and-run occurred around 8:57 p.m. in the 1100 block of Seven Mile Lane in North Houston. Authorities say the victim was riding his bike along Seven Mile Lane when a pick-up truck attempted to overtake another vehicle and struck the cyclist from behind. The pick-up fled the scene.
July 11, 2020
On Saturday night, a driver who later admitted to having used PCP prior to driving that evening, struck and killed a bicyclist Cindy Porter, on John Ralston Road after losing control of his vehicle. Reports indicate that the driver was going in excess of 100 miles per hour when the incident occurred.
What Can Cyclists Learn From the News Reports?
The above reports of bicycle accidents have several things in common that all indicate one important thing riders can learn—avoid riding in the dark. All of the above accidents took place at night or early in the morning when darkness played a visibility factor. Second, riders should take note that there are clearly many drivers on Houston streets late at night who are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs—particularly on weekends. Although only two of the above bicycle accidents mention alcohol or drug use, the fact that all of the other drivers fled the scene suggests the drivers may have possessed a knowledge of guilt and/or impaired judgment at the time. Lastly, one thing bicyclists need to take note of is the fact that, with the exception of the one driver who lost control and crashed his car, all of them fled the scene. Thus, you simply cannot rely on the negligent driver to stop and render aid after they hit you.
How Can Bike Riders Reduce the Risk of a Nighttime Accident?
If you must ride at night, you can reduce the risk of a nighttime bike accident by wearing reflective clothing, wearing a helmet with reflective tape and/or paint, making sure your bicycle has reflectors to the sides and rear of the bike, and placing a light and/or reflectors on the front of the bicycle. Additionally, always ride with a partner if possible to help watch for dangerous drivers. You cannot control the actions of drivers, but you can take every precaution to make yourself more visible at night.