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Brisk Houston ghost bike business is not a good thing

Some issues just seem to need more attention than others do. The issue of motorists not seeing bicyclists is one of them. We attempt to do our part by posting regularly about such matters. We did it most recently just last week with an entry about the fact that a measure that had sought to give unprotected road users across the state a level of increased security had stalled in the Texas Legislature.

As things stand currently, such restrictions are rather hit or miss. Houston is one of 23 Texas cities that have ordinances on the books mandating a safe passing distance between vehicles and vulnerable road users. Those would include pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists. Galveston and League City cannot make such a claim.

Considering recent news out of Houston around this issue, some might be legitimately asking whether such ordinances make much of a difference. According to Houston Press, hundreds of cyclists are struck by motorists on the streets of the city every year. And one national survey puts the average number of cyclist deaths in the city at about five a year. But local cycling advocates note that three of their number has died in just the past three weeks.

The most recent fatal accident happened last Monday. Authorities say the driver of a box truck ran over a biker as they were both taking off from the same stop light. The truck driver claimed he didn't see the rider.

Police say an investigation is still underway and no charges have been filed. They say if more serious charges aren't brought, the driver might be cited for failing to give the cyclist the three feet of clearance he was due.

That doesn't sit very well with Richard Tomlinson. His concern over cycling safety prompted him to start the group Houston Ghost Bike several years ago. It sets up memorials anywhere a cyclist has been killed by a motorist and Tomlinson says he is unable to keep up with the current fatality rate.

Houston Press, citing official data, reports that in the past two years only eight drivers were cited for safe passing violations despite accidents happening almost daily. Tomlinson says that would suggest that the city could and should do more to enforce the law.

What do you think?

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