It is great to see so many cyclists, runners, and walkers getting exercise and fresh air on the Trinity Trails in this horrible pandemic. So it upset me to read that a serious Fort Worth bicycle accident just happened there. This treasure has 90 miles where you can ride, run and walk without fear of being hit by a car or truck. It is one of my favorite things about our wonderful city. Since I have trained for 58 marathons and several 100-mile bike rides, live nearby, and have seen it out of my office window which overlooks the trail for nearly 40 years, it feels like a second home to me.
How did this Fort Worth bicycle accident happen?
On Saturday Jerry Heaton had been running on the new foot bridge near Pappasito’s when another runner approached him. But it was so muddy that the other runner suddenly moved to his left without looking behind him. A cyclist who was riding too fast hit that runner and threw him onto Jerry’s leg which caught the fall. Without that, Jerry said that man would have died when he hit the concrete. The cyclist sped away. Jerry had fractured his tibia. Now he is stuck with huge medical bills.
How can we prevent other accidents like this from happening?
Most of us rode a bike when we were kids. Some of us still do. It’s too easy to forget something obvious – riding can be dangerous. Tragically, 800 bicyclists lose their lives and one half million people have to be rushed to an emergency room each year. Most of the collisions are preventable.
Here are some good ideas to help keep us bicycle riders safe. Review them with people you are riding with before you hop on the saddle.
Jerry is begging authorities to make the Trails safer. Our wonderful bike-crazy Mayor Betsy Price said that she has had near-accidents like his and reminded us to
- use proper etiquette on the Trails,
- slow down and pass on the left only after announcing their intention,
- stay to the right at all other times, and
- not listen to music so we can’t hear warnings from others.
There are many new users of the Trails which has had a 255% increase since March according to the Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) which maintains the Trails in a partnership with the city and Streams and Valleys. Many have not been on the Trails before.
Mayor Price addressed this problem today. She and Streams and Valleys announced a new Ambassadors program where volunteers will be out on the Trails to patrol and hand out rules. More police will patrol. No doubt Jerry’s crash accelerated this. I just tried to sign up and encourage you to do this too.
I have been fortunate to ride with the mayor several times including at last year’s Tour of Fort Worth and run with her on the trail.
What I did to fix the problem
When I read about the accident, I went to the bridge last night after work. with a shovel and hoe. I rolled up my sleeves and started digging.
It took over two hours. I wish I had thought to bring shorts and gloves. The two sides had lots of hard mud.
Now the bridge is back to being safe.
What you should do if you are in a Fort Worth bicycle accident
Usually a cyclist or motorcyclist is out on the road if he is involved in a collision with a car or truck. As he or she is feeling great pain, it may be hard to remember what to do. So just remember this: C-R-A-S-H.
C: Check for injuries. This might seem obvious but sometimes you might think you are fine and try to keep riding with your friends when you may be seriously injured, like Jerry was.
R: Request medical help. Call 911 or get someone to do that for you. The police need to investigate. The police report will become important later when you are filing a claim or lawsuit against the other driver, who can deny that he/she is at fault.
A: Ask for all information including from the driver, witnesses, and police officer. Take photos and video if possible. Save your data from your bike computer, cell phone or watch.
S: Keep the bike. It will become Exhibit A as an expert reconstructs the collision and decides who was at fault. Sometimes both the cyclist and motorist are at fault or the motorist is excused by legal defenses including the weather or road conditions. Last year I represented a man who the police said was riding across a major road in Fort Worth but the bicycle inspection proved that he had been hit from the rear by the other driver.
H: Hire an attorney since insurance companies may contact you but they often have no intention to pay you back for your damages. But the medical bills from an ambulance, emergency room, doctors, physical therapists, and medicine can add up in a hurry. Just the ride in Fort Worth usually costs about $1,600.00 and the hospital, emergency room, and radiology could easily add another $3,000.00 or more. Your bicycle, cell phone, and clothes might be ruined as well. An experienced bicycle accident lawyer will help you obtain compensation for your expenses, lost wages, and other damages.
This is sadly what the usual bicycle (or motorcycle) collision scene looks like.
- Fort Worth requires someone under 18 to wear a helmet. Texas does not. Traumatic brain injuries are one of the most horrible injuries anyone can sustain.
- Cyclists must ride in the same direction as cars and trucks are going. I suggest cyclists purchase small rear view mirrors for their bike handle bars, helmets or eyeglasses.
- Cyclists can only ride beside each other if the traffic behind them is not slowed.
- A rear reflector or light on the rear and white light in front is required if riding at night. This sounds obvious but I have seen riders without lights and that could easily be hit.
We can help you
I specialize in car, truck, and 18-wheeler crashes but I have also handled Fort Worth bicycle accidents, motorcycle accidents, and injuries to pedestrians over the past 40 years.
Please contact my personal injury law firm if you have any questions or need my help.
See you on the Trails and please stay safe!