On Wednesday, April 7, 2021, I attended A Day of Remembrance recalling and celebrating the lives lost to pedestrian and cycling deaths on Kentucky and Ohio roadways. Penning a blog on preventable deaths is both difficult and jarring considering one week ago I was writing about the joys of bike riding and bike racing. Unlike you and me, those remembered will never throw their leg over their bike’s top tube or lace up their sneakers for a run or a walk. Pedestrians and cyclists are the most vulnerable users of Kentucky and Ohio roadways. In Kentucky alone, in 2018 there were 1,024 pedestrian collisions resulting in 12 deaths and 332 bicycle-motorist collisions resulting in 9 deaths. In 2019 there were 1,048 pedestrian collisions resulting in 80 deaths and 330 bicycle-motorist collisions resulting in 4 deaths. We await a final compilation of 2020 figures from Kentucky Traffic Safety Data Services.
Elected Officials, Policymakers, and Traffic Engineers can do much to design, redesign and retrofit existing roadways to make them safer for those vulnerable users. We can do something too. We can be vocal advocates for the deceased and their families.
I am struck by the totally preventable deaths – in particular those involving drugs and/or alcohol use. Just last month, on March 1, 2021, Bradley McNally, only 33 years old, was struck and killed on his bicycle in Bell County, Kentucky by an impaired driver who fled the scene.
Last year, Steve Adams, a friend, was struck from behind on a morning ride in Cincinnati and ultimately succumbed to his injuries. Again, the driver fled the scene. We have ordered the police report and investigation file – whether impairment was an issue remains an open question.
In 2017, William Rust was struck from behind on U.S. 52 by an impaired driver who fled the scene. William was 61 and survived by his wife and children.
In 2016, again on U.S. 52, Michael Prater, a friend, was struck from behind on a training ride and killed, again, by an impaired driver who fled the scene. Michael was 42 and survived by his wife and children. His son was three years old, and his daughter was only four months old.
We will never know whether immediate medical attention would have mitigated the injuries of these cyclists. We do know that the drivers were cowards selfishly motivated to protect themselves at the expense of a dying cyclist. More needs to be done in the charging and sentencing of these cowards. Their cowardice may have cost these men their lives. Their criminal sentencing should send a message to all users of Kentucky and Ohio roadways.