Make Austin's Flyovers Safer!
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Dear Austin Mayor Adler, City of Austin Council Members, Interim City Manager Hart, Austin District Engineer McCoy, and the City of Austin Public Works Department;
In February 2007, a male motorcyclist died when he lost control of his vehicle and fell off the southbound Mopac flyover to southbound Hwy 183. In June 2012, a 50-year-old male motorcyclist died when he had an accident that caused him to fall off the flyover at US 290 East and Interstate 35. In June 2014, motorcyclist Rae Ripptoe-Blair died when she fell off the North Mopac flyover to southbound Hwy 183. In July 2014, a male motorcyclist died falling off the flyover from northbound Interstate 35 to westbound Ben White. In February 2017, 38-year-old motorcyclist Alicia Romo died when she fell off the flyover from westbound US 290 to southbound Interstate 35. Most recently, 28-year-old motorcyclist Megan Brennan died Tuesday, April 25th of this year, when she fell from the flyover from northbound Mopac to southbound Hwy 183. In many of these accidents, there was no indication of why the motorcyclist lost control of their bike and news reports often cite a lack of evidence that the cyclist was speeding or driving under the influence. In all of these deaths, the common denominator was being on a motorcycle on one of Austin’s many flyover highway interchanges. It should be noted that some of these interchanges have seen more than one such motorcyclist fatality due to falling off a flyover.
1) this is a recurring cause of death for motorcyclists in Austin, with at least six motorcyclists dying in the last decade as a result of falling off flyovers;
2) that wind speeds increase on the average of a mile per hour for every ten feet above ground level and these flyovers are equal to or in excess of 100 feet off the ground, which means that wind speeds and gusts are at least ten mph stronger at the tops of these flyovers than on the ground; and
3) there are no precautionary measures in place to keep motorcyclists, people ejected from cars, or others outside of an enclosed vehicular cabin from falling off the flyovers;
We call for a safety review of our flyovers, and seek proposals for rectifying this dangerous and deadly situation. Whether that means placing fences above the minimal concrete barriers along these flyovers, extending the height of the concrete barriers, situating safety nets outside the barriers, and/or some other safety measures, it is clear that our highway interchanges are not safe for motorists outside of a cabin and need safety features installed. This will not stand! Please act before we lose another beautiful Austinite. Thank you.
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