Bicyclist in critical condition after crash near bike trail

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Police are investigating an accident where a car hit a bicyclist Friday along Shady Lane in East Austin, near Airport Boulevard. The victim was in critical condition Monday at University Medical Center Brackenridge after suffering life-threatening injuries.

The crash happened near the recently completed Walnut Creek Hike and Bike Trail. KXAN talked with some people who say the trail makes it a lot safer for them to ride their bikes.

Charles Reckson couldn’t wait to bring his bike out here to the new hike and bike trail.

“No traffic and few pedestrians. It’s basically just bikes and it’s just wonderful,” said the avid cyclist who tries to stay off road.  “And so I came out here and gave it a try and now that’s the only place I really bike.”

And one of the ways to get to the trail by taking  Shady Lane which cuts directly across a residential neighborhood. Last Friday, a woman was on her bike when police say she was hit by a vehicle driving down Shady Lane. It’s unclear whether she was headed to the trail.

The city created this new hike and bike trail to give bicyclists another place to ride. The trail itself is more than 10 miles long.

Alvaro Bastidas is the founder of Please Be kind to Cyclists. He’s also ridden his bike here many times.

“I do encourage everybody to use it. Before that trail we would have to use the street to get to that location. We don’t have to anymore,” he explained.

While Alvaro is happy about the new hike and bike trail he also says people have to use the road to get here and encourages both cyclists and drivers to be aware of their surroundings. Police say the driver stopped to help the bicyclist and is cooperating with authorities.

In-Depth

The number of crashes between vehicles and bicycles is actually dropping in Austin; 227 cyclists were hit on the roads between January and September of 2013. But that number is down to 189 for the same period this year.

The city completed work on several bicycle-friendly routes in the past 12 months. Last October, the city opened protected bicycle lanes on Guadalupe Street near the University of Texas campus. The lanes include barriers between cyclists and traffic and could be a model for future bike lanes in Austin.

And in June, the Boardwalk Extension opened on the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail. It gives cyclists and pedestrians a way to cross Interstate 35 without leaving the trail.

Since January city workers built more than 10 miles of new bike lanes on Austin streets. They’ve also widened more than 20 miles of existing lanes.

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