Groups seek to honor cyclist killed in crash, call for change

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Photo Credit: Eddie Gaspar

Bike Austin sent a letter to the University calling for immediate changes to San Jacinto Boulevard after the death of Tony Diaz, the 39-year-old cyclist killed in a collision with a CapMetro bus on Jan. 28. 

“The University is very saddened by (Diaz’s) fatality,” said Jim Walker, Campus Master Plan Advisory committee member. “We never want that kind of thing to happen. When it does, it … sharpens our focus and the efforts that we have going.”

The letter was sent on behalf of 23 individuals and groups, including Colton Becker, 2018–2019 student body president, James Lentz, Campus Bike Alliance president, and Elizabeth Meuller, director of the graduate program in community and
regional planning.

The letter urges the University to “consider immediate implementation of protected bike lanes on San Jacinto.”

“(The University) should make changes to make the road a safer street for students,” civil engineering senior Lentz said. “The best way to do that would be to have separate lanes for bicycle traffic. There are a lot of ways they could do a temporary fix that would allow a separate lane for cyclists without having to reconfigure the street entirely.”

 

In 2013, the Campus Master Plan advisory committee created plans that included the addition of bike lanes to San Jacinto Boulevard. However, this plan has not yet been acted upon.

The Campus Bike Alliance is also working with members of Student Government and the office of the Dean of Students to put up a permanent memorial for Diaz, following the University’s removal of Diaz’s “ghost bike.” A ghost bike is defined by Macmillan Dictionary as “a bicycle which is painted white and left in a particular place in memory of a cyclist who has been killed.”

“I think it’s important to remind us that there are things that the University should be doing … to guarantee the safety of students,” Lentz said. “I think it’s good to have a ghost bike there to remind people that when someone dies on the street, it’s not just a number. It’s something that has repercussions.”

University spokesperson J.B. Bird said the University is encouraging the Campus Bike Alliance to seek out a long-term memorial for Diaz.

“We were grateful to host (the ghost bike) on a temporary basis,” Bird said. “It’s great that we have students that are advocating for safety and honoring (Diaz).”