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Texas reports rise in pedestrian, bicyclist deaths in 2020 despite overall drop in crashes

The Lone Star State saw a dramatic rise in pedestrian and bicyclist deaths last year compared to 2019, despite fewer crashes.

AUSTIN, Texas — New data from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) reveals an alarming rise in bicyclist and pedestrian deaths on roads across the state last year.

Even though there were fewer crashes, there were more pedestrian and bicyclist deaths last year, the data showed. Statewide in 2020, there was a 21% increase in bicyclist deaths while crashes involving bicycles dropped 15%, and a 9% increase in pedestrian deaths despite a 19% drop in crashes involving pedestrians.

“Speed and alcohol are major factors. In fact, statewide, a quarter of all pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities on Texas roadways involved alcohol. This is a problem where we've got to do better and we can do better, but it is a shared responsibility,” said Brad Wheelis, a spokesperson for TxDOT. “Because there were fewer cars on the road, especially in the early stages of the pandemic, we saw people increase their speed and that resulted in crashes. There's a reason that speed limit is posted.”

In the 11-county Austin district, there were 395 crashes involving pedestrians and 264 involving bicyclists.

The Austin City Council in 2016 approved the Vision Zero action plan, aimed at eliminating traffic-related deaths and serious injuries by 2025. Through June 30 of this year, the City has reported 56 traffic fatalities, up from 41 at the same time last year. Sixteen of those involved pedestrians and four of them involved cyclists, according to City data.

“With schoolchildren returning to classes right now, this message is so important. Keep in mind, if you're driving, there may be new traffic patterns or new speed limits in school zones. So, pay attention,” Wheelis said.  

TxDOT reminds drivers to always stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk, yield to people walking or on bikes when turning and only pass cyclists at a safe distance to give them room to ride.

WATCH: TxDOT adding pedestrian barriers to I-35


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