The College Station City Council heard a presentation of crash data and potential policies and programs to help create a safer environment for cyclists in the city at a workshop meeting Monday evening.
The presentation, delivered by Venessa Garza, the city’s bicycle, pedestrian and greenways senior program manager, included an overview of areas popular with bicyclists, along with higher-risk zones.
Garza said that since 2010, 0.44% of crashes reported in Brazos County involved bicyclists. There have been an average of about 30 reported crashes each year since 2010, and 37 crashes per year since 2016, she said, with six fatalities in Brazos County since 2010.
Several cyclists from the community attended the meeting. On Jan. 4, 46-year-old Kenneth Spence of
College Station was killed after the driver of a vehicle hit him from behind as he biked north on the Texas 6 access road near the Peach Creek Cutoff intersection. Spence was well known and highly regarded by those in the area’s cycling community, multiple attendees said Monday.
On Jan. 24, nine area cyclists urged council members to consider measures to better protect them and promote safer biking throughout the city. Those who spoke, along with multiple council members, requested the presentation that took place Monday.
During Garza’s presentation, multiple members of the council asked questions or otherwise made short statements on the issue of bike safety. Members mentioned upcoming comprehensive plans from the council, though timetables were not discussed.
In response to a question from Councilman Bob Brick about the relationship between distracted driving and accidents, College Station Police Chief Scott McCollum said proving distracted driving was the cause of an accident is difficult. In Garza’s presentation, she said 63 percent of the city’s reported crashes involving cyclists occurred due to a motorist failing to yield the right of way, with another 9 percent due to distracted driving or biking.
Brick wondered how police handled such cases.
“The challenge with distracted driving, a lot of times, is lack of evidence,” McCollum said. “That’s a challenging metric to try and capture. If we can identify that as a contributing factor, we document that in the report itself and issue any citations that would be merited.”
Robert Rose, owner of Cycles Etc. in College Station, spoke during the public comment portion of Monday’s council meeting. He said many, if not most, crashes go unreported. Rose thanked the council for its attention to cyclist safety and encouraged the council to take action.
“I would ask College Station to consider joining approximately 27 other cities in the state of Texas that have enacted a safe passing ordinance,” Rose said. In Houston, for example, the city’s ordinance requires that motorists give bicyclists, when passing them, at least three feet of space on the road.
Another speaker, Jorge Sanchez, showed a brief presentation about protective bicycle lanes and urged the council to invest in more protected bike lanes, in part, to help protect children, he said.
College Station Mayor Karl Mooney asked for Garza’s recommendations. She said the council ought to lead and amplify ongoing education efforts about bicycle safety, and look at how to bolster enforcement of existing ordinances and rules. She also said Texas Avenue, University Drive and George Bush Drive were the highest priority corridors in the city in relation to bicycle crashes.
Garza said students and others have used about 2,500 bikes belonging to VeoRide, which replaced Ofo in January as the Texas A&M bike-share vendor, for about 101,000 rides covering over 20,000 miles.