Like the rest of the Austin cycling community, I am saddened by the death of cyclist Verter Ginestra, 55, over the weekend. He was riding on the shoulder of Loop 360, a major highway on the west side of Austin. The shoulders on 360 are very generous.
Ginestra apparently was not crossing an entrance or exit ramp. He appears to be the victim of a type of collision that is fairly rare — the daytime rear-ender. One statistic I saw (and cannot vouch for) says that only three percent of car-bike collisions are daytime rear-enders.
On top of it, the driver of the car is 85 years old. So you’ve got a bike on a wide shoulder, in bright daylight, and still he gets hit.
What can a cyclist do?
Not much, apparently. Cyclists should always be aware of what’s happening around them. “Scanning” — looking behind — is a riding technique everyone needs to learn. But if you’re riding with traffic, and you’re on the shoulder, you’re not likely to spend a lot of time looking behind you. The most common advice for avoiding rear-enders I’ve been able to dig up is to wear a rear-view mirror. That idea has its pros and cons. It might have alerted Ginestra to the car moving onto the shoulder, but since traffic on 360 is fast, it might not have given him enough time to react.
I didn’t know Verter Ginestra, but Dan Colvin, who joined me on my birthday ride, rode with him often. Dan says Verter was the kind of cyclist you’d want to ride with: “He was strong enough to ride with most A groups, but was not one to force the pace if others weren’t as strong. Interesting conversationalist. Helpful with mechanicals. The whole nine yards.”
Cyclists plan to converge on Austin City Hall Thursday evening to urge tougher enforcement against drivers who hit cyclists. As I write this, the 85-year-old driver has not been charged in the crash.
The KVUE story about the crash can be seen here.