It is every cyclist's not-so-secret dread to be struck from behind while spinning down the highway. That awful scenario came true for Houston-area cyclist Greg Chapa this past weekend, when he was hit from behind on Texas 146 near La Marque.
Chapa and a group of fellow cyclists were on a Saturday-morning training ride for the upcoming BP MS150 on March 8 when the accident occurred. The group of friends were riding from central Houston to Galveston when, about forty miles into their ride, Chapa was struck by a car driven by an elderly motorist. He was transported to University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston with extensive road rash, a cracked vertebra and several missing teeth. Doctors at UTMB removed a portion of one calf muscle and continue to monitor him for bleeding inside his skull.
Fellow riders say that the group were riding on a narrow strip of shoulder (video from Houston's KHOU depicts TXDoT's favorite narrow shoulder thinned even further by a cycle-killer rumble strip). Chapa was at the rear of the pace line when struck; the impact tossed him and his bicycle into the air.
Chapa told KHOU that a La Marque police officer who interviewed him at the hospital told him that the damage pattern on the bicycle showed that he had violated traffic rules. Officers who responded at the site declined to ticket the driver, although a spokesperson says the circumstances are still under investigation.