We Lost Another One of Our Own

I wasn’t sure I would write about the cycling tragedy that happened here in Austin over the weekend.  But yesterday I cycled past the spot it occurred….and after being overwhelmed with emotions, and just had to pay tribute as well as express my rant.

Last Saturday, 55-year old cyclist Verter Ginestra was struck down and killed on a popular Austin cycling road in the middle of the afternoon.  This isn’t the first cycling fatality to happen in this city (and just earlier in the week another local cyclist, Evan Baird, was seriously injured in a hit and run), but it’s the first time a road cyclist has been struck down since Gay Simmons was killed in 2006.  Any time a cyclists gets hit or killed in this city (or anywhere) it saddens me immensely….but this one really hit home.

Verter was a cyclist with as much or more experience riding the Austin roads as I have.  He was cycling on a road that I’ve ridden on countless times.  He was safely and legally riding on a shoulder that is even wider than each of the two car lanes beside it.  This never should have happened.

Yesterday, I rode past the spot where Verter was killed.  As I approached the flowers and memorial laid on the side of the road, I tapped my fist to my heart and then pointed up to the sky.  For that brief second I was connected with every cyclist who has ever lost their life on a bike.  Emotions immediately overcame me and I could feel things welling up inside.  I shook it off and stopped myself from breaking down in tears, but as I write this now….they have come back again.  We have lost another one of our own.

Okay, so here is my quick rant and I hope at least one person in a vehicle hears what I have to say.  Please Get Bikes on the Brain.  Please Be Aware of Your Surroundings when in your car.  Please Don’t Text or use a Cellphone (if you’re so freaking important that you must be on your phone while in the car, then hire someone to chauffeur you around so you can sit in the passenger side and text and call all you want).  Please don’t drive a car if you’re not feeling emotionally or physically stable.  Please Coexist on the road. Please Share the Road.  Please Be Kind to Cyclists.  Please.

Pedalling For Safe Roads

Later today, a rally is being held here in Austin so that cyclists can raise their voices and concern.  The Please Be Kind to Cyclists organization has put together the Pedalling for Safe Roads Protest and if you’re in Austin I hope you’ll join in.  Find out more about this event on the Pedalling for Safe Roads Facebook page, or read the details in the poster below.

We need safer roads and more cycling awareness all over the World.  This isn’t just happening in Austin…in fact, Cyclelicious reported that there were 9 cyclist hit and runs in California last week alone.  I don’t know what else to say, but I sure do hope that change is coming.

  • http://www.cyclelicio.us/ Cyclelicious

     I’ve cycled on Loop 360 a couple of times — beautiful road for cycling on from what I remember.  It’s horrible that this road is marred by needless tragedy like this.

  • Trog

    and STILL NO charges against the driver. WTF?!!! I don’t like to compare or want to be like Europe but over there it is an absolute privilege to drive. Pedestrians and cyclist have right of way ALL the time. It’s the drivers fault if there is an accident and will be charged. So driving is taken so much more seriously.

    • AmandaGaleKotyk

      I totally agree.  I can not believe that there are no charges against the driver….I find this totally shocking!!  

  • Eric

    Really well done as always Darryl and it really tugs at me. I dont want to be in fear of what I love to do but it is so clear the risk is there. I feel so badly for his family and for the community of his friends.
    Be careful out there my friend.

  • Cheryl

    Well said. These senseless injuries and deaths are so infuriating. If you’re driving your car, then DRIVE the car. No “multitasking!”

  • Julie Starling

    So so sad!!!  So ridiculous — sounds like the safest spot possible for biking.  My sympathies to all who knew Verter!!!

    My best wishes to Evan’s quick recovery and the quick apprehension of the driver. 

    I hope the campaign goes national.  Inattentive drivers have become the bane of the roadways for everyone!

  • Solarchase

    This is so sad.  You know he was a regular Austin person, balancing family, work and just found that 90mins to get a quick spin in during the weekend.

  • http://pamelahutchins.com/ Pamela

    Powerful and important. Thank you  Darryl.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=575216094 J Joseph Meitzen

    RIP Verter.  I must admit, I am afraid to ride on roads in Austin, even in “bike lanes” that are just a skinny paved shoulder.  The problem of inattentive drivers of vehicles is getting worse all the time.  I believe a great thing for our city would be to have separate bike only roads such as they have in Amsterdam.  No motorized vehicles allowed.  

  • Ride

    My sincere condolences to his friends and family.  Let’s all be careful out there.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1620584248 Gordon Magill

    As the cycling community, we have to stand up and fight for the same rights that motorists take for granted!

  • http://julesmpg.blogspot.com Julesmpg

    So very sad. I am also fearful of riding on the road for this reason. Hopefully someday these senseless deaths will stop.

  • Ddworin

    The members and friends of St. Martin’s Lutheran Church, where the cycling community recently gathered for Austin’s Blessing of the Bicycles, is saddened by this loss, as well. 

  • Geir Ove Vedo

    This makes me so sad…

  • Keith Edmiston

    I’ll be there tonight Darryl…hope to see you, but if not, know that we’re in the same place, for the same reason, with the same hopes for a better future.

  • AmandaGaleKotyk

    Darryl…I don’t even know what to say.  This tragedy is absolutely beyond sad, and knowing how it affects you emotionally, makes it even tougher for me.   Knowing that you cycle that road all the time makes it hit that much closer to home. 

    I’m so sorry for the loss of Verter, and sorry to anyone who knew him.  I’m also sorry for Evan Baird who was involved in the hit and run.

    I’m hoping for a big turn out at the rally tonight (and hoping it stays peaceful despite how deeply upset so many people are by these tragedy’s). 

    I Love You. 

  • Paulette Ference

    This is so sad, and shouldn’t happen. I don’t understand why people can’t be aware and respectful of cyclists. As a new cyclist, I’m so fearful of riding on road. So sorry to hear about this one.