Monday, March 4, 2013
Cyclists hit near Deep Ellum when truck ran red light
The victims were two cycling advocates, including one who did his thesis in college about cycling to work.
DEEP ELLUM At 8:30 Sunday night, Dallas police were called to the scene of a serious accident at Gaston Avenue and Hall Street, where two bicyclists had been hit by a pickup that blew though a red light and kept on going. Police found them sitting on the sidewalk, being tended to by off-duty nurses, which is what happens when you’re injured in front of Baylor University Medical Center. Someone even managed to get the license plate number, though no arrest has yet been made.
The victims were Melanie Jarrett, director of marketing for SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, and her fiancé Sean Clancy, who works at the International Bowling Congress in Arlington. But one year ago, while a graduate student in the University of North Texas’ Department of Kinesiology, Clancy did his thesis on cycling to work, and he’s been nominated to sit on the city of Dallas’ resurrected Bicycle Advisory Committee.
“Sean’s still in a daze,” says Jarrett when reached this morning, referring to the concussion he suffered as a result of the hit and run. “But in a couple of days he’ll want to do something. I told him, ‘You’ll get angry, and I know you — you’ll want to do something about this.’ And he has the network of friends in the cycling community to do something about it. It’s just so shocking to think about someone looking in their rear-view mirror and seeing two people lying in the middle of the street — and not stopping. It’s terrifying.”
According to Jarrett, Clancy and a Dallas police report, the couple was riding on Hall toward Elm Street; they live in Deep Ellum, just a few blocks from the scene of the incident. A driver in a white Chevrolet pickup was on Gaston, heading away from downtown. Jarrett and Clancy had the green light and “were going full-speed on our bikes,” says Jarrett, when “the driver ran the red light and hit both of us.”
She says Clancy was hit first and “thrown five feet backwards into the intersection.” Jarrett was slightly behind and had time enough to hit her brakes.
“And the driver kept going,” Jarrett says. “He didn’t even slow down.”
“Luckily we were right next to Baylor, so everyone was quick to act,” says Clancy in a separate interview. “We even had people who tried to track the driver down.”
They were treated at the scene and refused further medical attention; a police officer drove them home Sunday night. But a little while later, Jarrett says, Clancy “wasn’t acting right, and his shoulder was hurting, so a friend took us to the emergency room.” It turned out Clancy had suffered a mild concussion.
“But I feel very lucky to have come out of it without too many injuries,” Clancy says. “I just didn’t expect to have somebody blatantly run a red light.”
“It’s like I told Sean this morning: Innocent cyclists no longer,” says Jarrett, a self-proclaimed “bicycle enthusiast” who actually rides her bike from Deep Ellum to the Hilltop almost every day.
“It feels like it was just a matter of time,” she says. “It’s one thing to know the traffic law and have people obey them, but it’s also mutual respect. Reading those stories about the cyclist stabbed on GreenvilleYour text to link... and the guy hit on the service road of the tollway — there has to be a mutual respect for human life, and it doesn’t matter if you’re on two wheels or four. The most terrifying thing is the culture of the city and that lack of respect, and I hope the city will find a way to start protecting cyclists.”
Which, as we (re)discovered only last week, somehow isn’t as easy as it sounds.
“It begins with local government,” says Jarrett. “If they’re enforcing the laws, it trickles down to individual drivers. They have to know when they’re allowed to pass a cyclist and when they can take a whole lane and that sometimes it’s OK to be patient and to slow down.”
“And we have to continue on the same path and be good stewards of bicycling in Dallas,” says Clancy. “That means getting back on the bicycle.”
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