Tag Archives: accidents

Bicycle accident map

Readers from last year will remember that when Nick Magruder was seriously hit and run on Bonnie Brae, the Denton Police were not collecting bicycle accident stats at that time.  Naturally, we asked if they could, and they agreed to start keeping track of bicycle accidents.  The police gave us a raw spreadsheet of accident data, and we plugged in the data to Google Maps via www.batchgeo.com.  You can click on each dot and see the accident date and time, and “contributing factors”.  The descriptions are pretty vague, and we’d like to get accident reports with these, but this will do for now.

In 2009, we had 23 reported accidents.  The key word is “reported”, as cycling accidents are known to be greatly underreported.  Remember this number, 23, because it seems to be from first complete year in which we kept track.  Ideally we should see this number decrease as Denton’s population grows, more people ride (optimistically), and infrastructure and culture change.

Considering how many cyclists there are at UNT (~3,000), notice that there’s not a strong correlation to accident frequency around campus.

Here’s what we have so far, June 2008 to March 2010, and we’ll update this periodically:

Bicycle Accident Map

These stats will be fascinating to follow as ridership continues to increase, because cyclists are safer in numbers.  As NYC drastically added bicycle lanes, cycletracks, boulevards, etc, ridership went up, and injuries and fatalities went down.

NYC cycling - safety in numbers

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Driver hits Denton cyclist, cyclist ticketed

photo credit: Gerald Torrance

After completing an early morning 30 mile ride last Sunday, Southridge resident Alex Newton did not expect to get hit by a car, lectured by a responding police officer, and ticketed for failure-to-yield, all in his own neighborhood.

I had just stopped beside the neighborhood swimming pool on Woodbrook at Hollyhill and was about to cross Hollyhill on my way home. I do not remember seeing anyone while I was at the stop sign or when I started off into the intersection, but as I was getting clipped into my pedals and back up to speed mid-way through the intersection I looked to my right and out of the blind corner I saw a red Corolla coming at me. I started to accelerate as much as possible and thought that I was through the intersection, but to my surprise, was hit on the right hand side of my rear wheel and derailleur by the front passenger fender of the Corolla. My bike skidded a few feet to the left, but I was able to get my foot out and catch myself without falling.

After catching his breath, Alex reports that the car driver (Johnny Miller) demanded to know what Alex was doing in the road and yelled “I am going to call the cops”.  Alex agreed that police involvement sounded ideal, so they waited for the first officer to arrive.  While waiting for police, the driver continued to yell at Alex.

Johnny began yelling from across the street that “you didn’t stop!” and “what were you doing in the street!” I replied that I had stopped and that I there was no one in the street when I crossed. He yelled that I was a liar and that said that he saw me not stop. I was confused; I asked him why then if he saw me didn’t he stop?  He yelled that I was a good liar but still a liar.

At this point, the situation descended further into chaos, as the first police officer arrived and berated Alex, accusing him of running the stop sign.  Officer Danny Steadham, #124, accused Alex of “cussing this gentleman”, until the police dispatch corrected Steadham and reported no cussing during the 911 call.  Then, the situation gets more surreal as the Steadham threatened to write Alex a ticket for running the stop sign, describing that cyclists need to be taught a lesson.

Danny then let me know that he was going to give me a citation for not failure to stop at the stop sign. I told the officer that I had stopped, but he cut me off to tell me about the 8 cyclists he had seen earlier that day run a stop sign and how he has been lenient in the past with cyclists,but that we have to learn to obey traffic rules. I told him that regardless I had stopped. The officer then yelled over to Johnny to ask how long he had lived here. Johnny replied 13 years. Danny then asked if he knew the turn well, and Johnny told him that he did. Danny then told me that if Johnny had lived here for 13 years and knew this intersection that he wouldn’t have speed through, that in fact you couldn’t make the corner that fast. He went on to explain that he had tried to see how fast he could make the same corner during calls and therefore the he could not have been speeding. He let me know that he was going to write me a citation for not stopping and continued to lecture me on the subject of bicycles obeying all the same traffic rules as any other vehicle. I again told him that I had stopped.

As the situation continued to worsen, Officer Steadham’s sergeant arrived and attempted to calm the scene.  In an attempt to clarify what the record would indicate, the sergeant recanted his understanding of the accident.

He copied down the make and model of the frame and said that this is how they were going to file the police report: I had stopped at the stop sign and then proceeded into the intersection not seeing the car, the corner is a blind one, and Johnny had a large front left pillar and mirror and that he had not seen me. Mind you I am not a small man, and I was wearing a bright orange jersey on a bright yellow bike.  The officers then proceeded to let me know that even though I had stopped, as I was still operating a vehicle and coming from a direction that did not have the right of way, that I would be getting a citation for failure to yield right of way at a stop controlled intersection. He said that it would have been the same if I would have been in a car. Even though I had stopped at the stop sign it was still my responsibility to be clear of the intersection before any other traffic arrived from the direction that had right of way. I said that this didn’t sound right and asked if someone that was already in the intersection had the right to finish crossing. The sergeant joined in and said “well yes, in some cases, but not in this one”.

From glancing at Texas Transportation Code 545.153, it appears that the officers could be correct regarding Alex’s failure to yield.  The state law clearly favors vehicles already in the roadway. This, to governor Rick Perry, is adequate protection under current laws.  And that is why Rick Perry vetoed SB 488, the Safe Passing ordinance, which aimed to protect pedestrians; highway construction and maintenance workers; tow truck operators; stranded motorists or passengers; people on horseback; bicyclists; motorcyclists; and moped riders. Because the veto was completely unexpected, some municipalities have taken it upon themselves to pass local ordinances declaring the same kinds of protection. Councilman Dalton Gregory penned an editorial in favor of Safe Passing in Denton, but we’ve seen no support from other council members so far.

Wondering whether a sign would change the law’s determination, Alex questions the officers.

I asked if there was a “Caution children” or “yield to pedestrians” sign if it would still be permissible for drivers to run over the children in the intersection. The officer said that these signs would only be a warning and would not change the fact that the driver with right of way had no responsibility; it was up to the child, or parent if the child was younger, to beware of traffic.

In this case, Transportation Code 552.003 requires vehicles to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.  Further, state law requires drivers to “exercise due care” even without a crosswalk, according to 552.008.

Legal semantics aside, Alex supposes that this accident represents a danger to the neighborhood children, and he’s disappointed by the lack of empathy from the driver or police officers.

The strangest thing to me about the entire event is that nothing went as I would have expected. Of course I didn’t expect to get hit by a car, but then when I did, I expected the driver to feel some sense of responsibility or remorse not aggression and anger towards the victim. I expected that when the police arrived they would tend to the possibly injured cyclist and try to understand the situation instead of arriving with a defensive attitude for the driver and preconceived ideas on my behavior from earlier events. The last thing that I expected is that I would have received a citation for being an obstacle in the road while the driver that hit me was free to go. These things bother me at a deep level particularly because it was in our neighborhood only blocks from our house at a swimming pool that we thought would be great for our girls to walk to in the summers when they were older.

After looking at the Google Street View, I can’t help but think the ultra-wide roadway, the lack of a 4 way stop, lack of any pedestrian/children warning signs, and vehicle speed of the Corolla all add up to a perilous situation for pedestrians and cyclists.  Given the road curve, I question whether there’s sufficient line-of-sight to make this intersection safe for anyone.  I’ve swam at that pool, and that huge roadway could definitely use a crosswalk for children and parents to safely make it across.  Perhaps a 4-way stop and crosswalk are called for?  Alex’s accident should be seen as an opportunity to make a dangerous situation safer, especially since he survived unscathed.  There are plenty of lessons to be learned here for drivers, cyclists, police officers, pedestrians, and traffic engineers.  Let’s make this situation work towards a better future and not a bitter one.

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Cyclist hit by car on Hwy 77

77/Joyce cyclist hit by car

An eyewitness reports that a cyclist was traveling west on Hwy 77 around 5PM and T-boned a car which pulled out from the stop sign at Joyce, directly in the path of the cyclist.  The witness reports that the cyclist hit the car and flipped over the hood, landing in the roadway.  Paramedics and police responded to the accident, and Public Information Officer Ryan Grelle stated that the cyclist was not transported to a hospital.  Grelle also stated that fault and accident logistics are still pending investigation, so no further details were available.

So here’s the rub.

I serve on the city’s Traffic Safety Commission.  At a meeting last fall, I asked city traffic engineer Bud Vokoun if Hwy 77 could receive any kind of signage indicating that cyclists commonly travel on it, especially since there is no shoulder on which to ride.  Bud responded that TXDOT would laugh at me and say that cyclists shouldn’t be riding on the highway.  I pointed out that the UNT Discovery Park campus is located directly on 77, and employees and students cycle to this location, and protection/visibility is warranted.

I wouldn’t say that signage would have prevented this accident, but it’s a step towards educating drivers that cyclists do ride on this road.  Daily.

As student and employee numbers increase at UNT and especially at the UNT Discovery Park Campus, we’ll continue to see serious risk to cyclists and pedestrians along the (mostly) 55mph stretch of Hwy 77, although I’m fairly certain that today’s accident location occurred in a 45mph zone.


If you’d like to contact TXDOT directly, there’s a comment/request form here.  If you get a response, we’d love to know what they say.

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Former Dentonite Hit and Badly Injured in Austin


From http://helpian.tumblr.com/:

On the night of Saturday October 17th, while riding his bike home, a car hit Ian Mcdougall, guitarist of our band Riverboat Gamblers.  He sustained some pretty heavy injuries including a broken hip, a broken wrist and hemmoraging under the skull along with many lacerations, torn ligaments, bruises and and scrapes.

He was rushed by ambulance to Brackenridge hospital in Austin and stayed in the ICU for 2 days before being moved into his own room where he is undergoing physical therapy while awaiting the results on X-rays and MRIs as well as a deluge of other various tests.

That being said, the prognosis is better than we had first thought.  We are happy that he is going to be ok and that he is alive and with us.  Unfortunately, not only is he in for a long recovery and is in a lot of pain, but he will be celebrating his birthday in bed with hospital food.

On another unfortunate note, there are a pile of bills currently gaining a Mt. Everest-like summit from all his hospital expenses.  We set up a PayPal account for our band mate and friend to try and help him get on top of the debt and focus on his recovery.  His PayPal account email is ian.gambler@gmail.com.  Anything you can afford to give will be greatly appreciated by Ian and his family.  Thank you all for your support and we wish Ian the speediest of recoveries.

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Cyclist Injury Trend Shows Infrastructure Need

wreckage from hit and run in Denton

From a MedIndia article, Dr. Jeffry Kashuk:

Look at all the safety factors that have been incorporated in automobiles and streets and highways. If even a percentage of that kind of investment went into safety vis-a-vis bike paths and community infrastructure, we would protect people from major injury.

Anthony Brown, MD, writes a very interesting article about a growing trend in cyclist abdominal injuries in the US.

Bicycle injuries in the US have become more severe and there has been a marked increase in chest and stomach injuries.

Moreover, despite greater public awareness, helmet use has not increased and head injury rates have not fallen.

“There is a paucity of studies looking specifically at bicycle injuries,” lead researcher Dr. Jeffry Kashuk, from the University of Colorado, Denver, told Reuters Health. In the last several years, greater environmental awareness, economic downturns, an emphasis on fitness, and other factors have fueled greater bicycle use in the US.

The study indicated that 1/3 of all bicycle injuries (at least those which make it to the ER) had a significant head injury.  While they don’t explicitly say that the other 2/3 are all abdominal injuries, it seems implied.

The severity of injuries and time spent in hospitalized for bicycle injuries tended to increase in the past decade, according to the findings he presented Tuesday at the American College of Surgeons annual meeting in Chicago. The number of chest injuries rose by 15 percent, while abdominal injuries increased threefold over the last 5 years.

Dr. Jeffry Kashuk points out that cycling injuries are trending toward older age, and he notes that injuries are affecting commuters more, as opposed to recreational riders.  On one hand, it’s great that more people of all age groups are commuting.  On the other hand, doesn’t this indicate a need for increased cycling infrastructure?


“Although the public is very enthusiastic about bicycle use as a means of transportation, we think that infrastructure has lagged behind in the US,” he explained. “The government is pushing bike days, and rebates for bike use. Communities are putting in bicycle kiosks.” However, there is only limited data to show that “we have bikeways to support this increase in bike use.”



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Cycling Parents Killed in San Antonio

BIKE MEMORIAL  100609 001

(Photo: Tom Reel/San Antonio Express News)

Summary from Erik Ryberg of TusconBikeLawyer:

Folks, that is a photograph of seven year old Kylie Bruehler. She is at a funeral service to bury her parents, both of whom were killed last week when a driver veered onto the shoulder and drove his pickup truck into them.

They were riding together on a tandem.

The local news reports that “investigators say there are no charges on the driver. They believe this was an accident and that somehow the driver lost control of his truck.”

Texas’s governor recently vetoed a law that would mandate a safe passing distance for cyclists, saying it was unnecessary.

This is one of the saddest, most senseless cyclist killings I’ve ever heard of.  If it’s manslaughter when the driver is drunk, then isn’t it manslaughter when the driver is distracted or texting or adjusting the radio?  MYSA News has run a few followup stories, like this one and this one, detailing Texas cyclists’ outrage at the lack of state legal protections.  Remember Denton resident, Nick Magruder, who was hit and run earlier this year, narrowly escaping with his life?  It didn’t make the newspaper headlines or blotter, and it also didn’t make the Traffic Safety Commission agenda.  Like most pressure for positive change, unfortunately it often takes tragedy with fatality to bring attention to where it’s needed the most.

BikePortland just ran a story on this and readers from all over America are commenting.

Rest in peace, Gregory and Alexandra Bruehler.


Photo courtesy of Michelle Mondo and Eva Ruth Moravec of MYSA News.

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Who Causes Cyclists’ Deaths?

Via Freakonomics:

When it comes to sharing the road with cars, many people seem to assume that such accidents are usually the cyclist’s fault — a result of reckless or aggressive riding. But an analysis of police reports on 2,752 bike-car accidents in Toronto found that clumsy or inattentive driving by motorists was the cause of 90 percent of these crashes. Among the leading causes: running a stop sign or traffic light, turning into a cyclist’s path, or opening a door on a biker. This shouldn’t come as too big a surprise: motorists cause roughly 75 percent of motorcycle crashes too.

This data, from David Tomlinson in Toronto, analyzed 2,572 cyclist/motorist collisions from 1997-1998 and found that cyclists were at fault less than 10% of the time.

The Project Freeride site also shows data that illustrates cyclists safety in numbers.  This figure depicting cycling ridership in the Netherlands from 1980-1998 shows a huge correlation between increased ridership and fewer fatal accidents.

A 30% increase in cycle traffic is associated with a two- third reduction in risk, e.g. a decrease of the total number of fatal cycling accidents

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What To Do After A Car Hits You

Urban Velo published a succinct post today with 6 steps that you should take after being hit by a car.

1. If you are in pain, stay put. Don’t try to move. You could end up injuring yourself even more.
2. Call 9-1-1 or tell someone else to do it for you
3. Make sure to get the driver’s name, license plate, insurance info and contact info
4. Get a police report
5. Contact a lawyer
6. Contact your city councilperson and tell them your story and that you want safer cycling conditions in the city

After Nick Magruder was recently hit-and-run on Bonnie Brae on May 13th, he went through most of those steps.  I say most because to my knowledge he didn’t contact a council person and let them know what happened, but I definitely did.  In querying the Denton police department to obtain cyclist accident statistics, we learned that they were not keeping track of cyclist accidents, but they are now, since we asked.

On the topic of #3, I have previously failed to memorize license plates during traffic incidents, and now I regularly scan plates with my eyes just as practice.  It definitely hasn’t come naturally to me during the few unfortunate incidents I’ve had, like when a van on Hwy 77 stopped and the passenger threatened to get a gun and shoot me.  In situations like that, with adrenaline pumping, I simply never thought to memorize the license plate.  As a result, the (UNT) policeman was not inclined do anything.

Lesson learned: practice memorizing license plates, so you can do it when it counts.

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Fort Worth Cyclist Killed And Left in Car

Nathaniel Jones of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that a 59 year-old man was struck head-on last Saturday by a drunk driver.  The 27 year-old driver drifted across the street enough to hit the cyclist, and then the cyclist somehow ended up lodged in the back seat, bleeding to death.

Police were called to the 400 block of Northeast 38th Street about 9 p.m. and found the critically injured Ronnie Monroe Keller lodged in the back seat of a 2004 Chevrolet Cavalier.

Keller, who had been riding a bike, had been struck head-on by the vehicle, police said Monday. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Keller’s body struck the windshield, went over the top and crashed through the back window before coming to rest partially lodged in the back seat of the car, police said.

Police arrested 27-year-old Vincent Paul Riojas, who was hiding under a parked vehicle in the area.

Riojas was taken to the Grand Prairie Jail and charged with intoxication manslaughter, resisting arrest and failure to stop and render aid. He was also wanted on an unrelated felony warrant.

He remained in the Grand Prairie Jail on a $150,000 bond.

The article doesn’t mention whether the victim, Ronnie Keller, was wearing a helmet or using lights.


Denton Cyclist Hit and Run: UPDATE



UPDATE (6/2/09): After some confusion about the case being closed, Nick reports that the case is indeed open and that the Denton Police Department is actively seeking the car in question.  Please, please keep your eyes peeled for this vehicle and report it to the police if you see it.  

Reiteration: the car in question is a a boxy maroon rusty Oldsmobile.  9WG-TK (with handicapped symbol).  It might still have a broken windshield from the impact of Nick’s head.


The above picture is real.

Steel is real.

Helmets can save lives.

Local cyclist and Querencia volunteer, Nick Magruder, was riding on Bonnie Brae north of University when a driver hit him from behind last Wednesday night at about 9:15. Nick was using the famously bright Planet Bike Superflash rear light, so visibility should not have been a problem.

Nick says:

I’m posting to ask everyone in the Denton area to keep a look out for a driver who ran me down last Wednesday night and took off with blatant disregard for the life of another human. This driver is obviously an incredible danger to anyone on our roads. The details are as follows;

I was riding south on Bonnie Brae just north of University at about 9:15PM on Wednesday the 13th by myself. Bonnie Brae is a wide open, four lane road with “Share the Road” signs every 20 yards or so and light traffic. I was on my road bike with my superflash turned on, and good reflectivity on my shoes and helmet. The car came from behind in my lane and without slowing, veering, swerving or braking at all, slammed into my rear wheel at about 35-40, throwing me onto the hood. My helmet broke his windshield at least a small amount, because I had bits of glass in my helmet and on my arms. I blacked out for about a quarter of a second and came to laying back-down on the hood, still going down the road at about 35 mph. Not wanting the driver to slam on his brakes and throw me, I rolled myself off the driver’s side of the car, giving me bad road rash on my knees, arms and a deep gash on my hip. He didn’t seem to slow down at all through the whole incident and just rolled on down the road, not even speeding off in a hurry. My cell phone and superflash came off in the wreck, I expect onto the driver’s hood. I stopped the next car and called 911. I was about a quarter mile from a fire station and half a mile from a hospital, good place for a wreck. I gave a full report to the police and then went to the hospital to get checked out. Not a single break, sprain or even a minor concussion. I was wearing a Bell Volt, and it stayed completely intact except for internal cracks, I HIGHLY recommend this helmet after seeing its performance. Anyway, the description of the car, as I and another witness at the scene described is;

An older (80s-early 90s) boxy maroon sedan with (from the other witness, relayed to me through a Denton Officer) disabled veterans plates. The witness also saw the driver stop and pickup my taillight, in order to hide the evidence. I am also pretty sure that they stole my cell phone, since it most likely came out of my jersey pocket onto their hood. No one got a license plate number at the scene.

I posted all of this info to my Facebook that night, and on Saturday a friend of mine noticed a car that was very close to the description. He was behind an older reddish/brown Oldsmobile with handicapped license plates, and a crack in the driver’s side of the windshield. He got the license plate number, which was 9WG-TK (with handicapped symbol). My friend wasn’t at the scene, so this second sighting is only possibly the same driver, but the odds seem very unlikely that it wouldn’t be.

As of tonight, Wednesday the 20th I haven’t heard anything from the police on the case, supposedly the hit and run detective was off last week. If you see this car, please call 911 and relay this info to the operator and the location of the car. We can’t let this incredibly dangerous and heartless driver continue to drive freely on our streets. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at ncm200@gmail.com

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