Waco Bicycle Club advocates for safer roads after students death

Posted at 11:34 PM, Oct 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-15 15:55:08-04

Waco Bicycle Club is a group of advocates who work with several agencies within the city to improve infrastructure in the city of Waco. 

Baylor Professor Trent Dougherty is the president of the club. Last week, he was meeting with representatives from the city, strategizing ideas for a safety video with the city's channel. That's when he got a call telling him that his former student and friend, 19-year-old David Grotberg was hit and killed while riding his bike on Franklin Avenue. 

"I took the family down to the site of the incident for them to see that it was very difficult. The markings were still there on the place where his shoes had landed, his keys had landed and his cell phone had landed," Dougherty explained.

Hailing from Minnesota, Grotberg's mother made an appearance at the monthly Public Safety meeting. Dougherty describes the meetings as typically a little boring. He explains the process for promoting infrastructure as tedious and full of details. But before Friday's meeting, she read a letter.

"Having her tell the story of her son helped to breathe fresh life into our motivation to stick to this process," Dougherty said.

Currently, Waco does have bike lanes in some parts of the city. They are, however, working on expanding. The Waco Bike Club collects data and volunteers their time to implement changes they feel will make biking in the city safer. 

"It's about putting in infrastructure, roads, signs, and lanes that indicate to the motorists bikes belong here on the roads," Dougherty said. 

Larry Holze, Information Director for The City of Waco, said they are looking at how and what the city can do."When a tragedy happens like it did with a biker, we try to look at what we need to do as far as safety and transportation plans," Holze said.

Holze also argued that in addition to city work, there will need to be a culture change with both bikers and motorists; a point Dougherty agrees with. "I think because it's an anomaly, people don't believe it belongs there. The dynamic leads to the safety hazard of motorist believing [cyclists] don't belong there when we do belong on the road and not only the sidewalks," he said. 

Given the speed at which safety changes can be implemented, cyclists are urged to take every precaution when they hit the road. Lance Green of Bicycle World is an avid bicyclist. After moving to Waco from Oregon, the change in biking accessibility made him more aware of protecting himself on the road. 

"I always wear a helmet. I have lights and reflectors on and no headphones, nothing to distract me. My cell phone has to stay in the pocket, and of course, I just make sure I'm extra careful stop at stop signs and signal when I'm turning," Green said.

Dougherty says drivers have a role in it as well. "That cyclist on the road is somebody's son or brother or father or mother or sister and they deserve to be there whether it's convenience or not, this is a human being," he said. 

Copyright 2016 KXXV. All rights reserved.