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Two cyclists dead on local streets so far in April

While much of Houston’s cycling community was focused on the upcoming BP MS150, two area cyclists died under the wheels of motor vehicles within just four days. Little mention was made of the deaths, perhaps because neither victim lived in the Heights or Montrose. That is quite unlike the wall-to-wall coverage of the death of Chelsea Norman in December.

The first to die was Isidro Martinez Campos, who was killed in the evening hours of April 2 while riding on North Main Street in Galena Park. According to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO), Martinez Campos was southbound in the 2000 block of N Main at approximately 8:00 p.m. when he “entered the lane of traffic,” veering from what the investigating officer termed an “improved shoulder.” He was struck by a southbound pickup truck whose driver, unlike the last four drivers to strike a cyclist in Harris County, stopped.

Even a cursory examination of the street on Google Maps shows that any “improved shoulder” is at best intermittent and at worst non-existent. Street view shows short stretches of gutter in a few areas and wide pavement where the street crosses bridges. There are also no lights.

The second to die was Alejandro Benito, killed on April 6, in the 2600 Block of W. Mount Houston; in unincorporated Harris County. Benito was crossing the street at around 9:30 p.m. when he was struck by a westbound vehicle. According to HCSO, Benito failed to yield to the vehicle. Again, the motorist remained at the scene. The accident report notes that the street is not lit and the bicycle did not have lights, although no mention was made of whether the bicycle had the wheel reflectors required by state law. Such reflectors would have been visible to a vehicle approaching from the side.

Perhaps because neither accident occurred within the city limits of Houston (and, perhaps, more to the point not inside Loop 610) no mention has been made of the two deaths since brief reports in the local newspaper. The comment section following the article reporting Benito’s death might be particularly disturbing to local cyclists, however, including as it does such sentiments as “thinning the herd” and “guess that’s how they ride in mexico [sic].”