AP NEWS

Jackson Lee says federal action needed to reduce bicyclist deaths

March 19, 2019

U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee announced Tuesday she was sponsoring legislation in Washington aimed at encouraging communities to reduce bicycling deaths.

“Many are trying, but we must try even harder,” the Houston Democrat said, standing where a 23-year-old bicyclist was killed earlier this month while riding along one of the bike-friendliest streets in the city. “We must act with a sense of urgency.”

Nationally, an average of 85 people are killed each month while bicycling along streets. The Houston area is an especially dangerous place to ride or walk, with an average of 150 pedestrian or bicyclist fatalities annually, according to a 2018 Houston Chronicle review of federal crash statistics.

Jackson Lee cited the figures on Tuesday, standing with police leaders, Texas Department of Transportation officials and bicycling advocates at 8th Street and Heights Boulevard. Also present were family members of David Loya, who was struck March 7 as he crossed Heights on his bike. Loya slid to avoid a collision with a school bus that had pulled out in front of him at an intersection, falling into the path of the rear tires of the bus.

“I think the best tribute is we are here and committed to doing something about this horrific incident,” Jackson Lee said.

Her proposed legislation, the Save American Bicyclists Act, still is being drafted, Jackson Lee said. The aim is to develop grants and programs urging states to add more bicycle safety to state driver license exams, award funding for communities to improve signs and street markings and leverage community funds for public works projects aimed at adding bike lanes and other amenities.

The legislation also will track prosecutions to enforce safety.

“We must get serious,” Jackson Lee said. “Serious about providing incentives, but also serious that penalties will be applied.”

dug.begley@chron.com

twitter.com/DugBegley