Sarah Baird

A recent hit-and-run accident near the UT campus has led to greater concern about cyclist safety in Austin.

Evan Baird, 22, was traveling home by bike from work south on Guadalupe Street at 38th Street when he was struck by a car. The vehicle sped off after colliding with Baird and he has been in the hospital since with debilitating injuries.

Evan’s mother, Sarah Baird, said he has traumatic brain injury, a shattered clavicle, a broken wrist and a fractured knee. She said the bone surrounding his left eardrum is shattered and he has been bleeding extensively out of his mouth, nose and ears. The doctors are seeing improvement, but Evan has a long way to go before a full recovery, his mother said.

The suspect in this case has still not been apprehended according to Austin Police Department Cpl. Anthony Hipolito.

“Baird was struck by a small black compact car believed to be a Hyundai,” said Hipolito. “The black car was last seen [driving] westbound on West 38th Street.”

Hipolito said the car has a “coexist” sticker on the rear bumper and has front-end damage from the collision with Baird.

UT biology senior Erika Almodovar said she was at the scene when the accident happened.

“I heard a loud crunching noise,” said Almodovar. “I jumped out of the car and ran to where I could see Evan laying on the ground.”

Almodovar said she stayed with Baird until Emergency Medical Services arrived, while her friend Katherine Li, also a UT student, called 9-1-1.

“I wish [the driver would] own up for his mistake,” said Almodovar. “It’s frustrating because I have a lot of friends who are bikers.”

Almodovar said she is now more fearful for the safety of cyclists.

“Knowing that there are people like this out there certainly makes me reconsider the safety of cycling on campus.”

Sarah Baird said Evan has been visited by local cyclists and concerned Austin residents who he has never met. She said the reaction of the cycling community has been a great comfort to Evan’s family.

“It has been devastating,” Baird said. “We are so grateful that he is alive, but he is experiencing a lot of frustration and agitation due to the fact that the driver has not been found.”

Baird said APD Chief Art Acevedo has spoken out recently about transportation safety issues in light of Evan’s accident and the fatal MetroRail crash that happened last Monday.

“I am in 100 percent support of making laws stricter against motorists who injure pedestrians and cyclists,” said Sara Baird.

Kate Bedford, coordinator of the Campus Safe Cycling Campaign at UT, said Baird’s accident is a symptom of a larger problem at UT. Bedford said she and other concerned students have been and will continue to work with Parking and Transportation Services to increase the safety of sidewalks and roads, and to raise motorist awareness of cyclists.

“Austin, and the University of Texas especially, are in a state of flux which is proving to be difficult and dangerous for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians,” Bedford said. “The road and sidewalk system are not well designed for our time — a time in which we are becoming more and more concerned with using less gasoline and are interested in riding bicycles/walking more.” 

Printed on Wednesday, May 2, 2012 as: Hit-and-run raises safety concerns for cyclists