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Tougher Penalties Proposed For Drivers That Kill Pedestrians
This year has been the deadliest on record for bicyclists and pedestrians in Austin. As of late December, 28 pedestrians and three cyclists have been killed by drivers -- 13 happened on I-35, five on Hwy 183 and three on RM 2222.
Now an advocacy group is working with Austin police and the Travis County District Attorney to get people to share the road.
Bill Yager knows the dangers all too well. “The Sheriff came to our door and told us what had happened. And we got here as soon as we could,” he says. “They were in the bike lane when the car swerved to miss a box. That's what the driver says.”
The accident left his daughter Jennifer with injuries from her brain to her feet. “Breaks in her leg, her pelvis was shattered,” he said.
She has a long recover ahead, but others never get that chance.
A ghost bike sits at West 6th and Highland. John Smythe was killed on his bike by a driver in 2005 at the age of 35. Examples like that are why the group “Please Be Kind to Cyclists” wants higher fines and tougher charges.
Police say they are working to make Austin safer. Two of the drivers who struck and killed a bicyclist this year were charged. Nearly half the drivers who killed a pedestrian were, too.
Yager says this discussion is one step in the right direction to save lives. “We don't know how long it's going to be. She has to learn to walk again,” he says.
The City of Austin is working on making several areas more pedestrian and bike friendly. Next year the Austin City Council will vote on improvements to Rainy Street, Riverside Drive and the pilot program to make the hike and bike trail open 24 hours.
By Christie Post