AUSTIN (KXAN) — People walking and riding their bikes are getting hit by cars more often, and at an alarming rate throughout Texas, data from the Texas Department of Transportation shows.
While the statistical spike is concerning for those who rely on walking or riding next to cars, they are a painful reminder to families who’ve lost a loved one.
That includes the family of Alexei Bauereris. A driver hit the 14-year-old boy while he walked back to his northwest Austin home in 2016.
“He had a great life ahead of him,” his mother Anna Bauereris said. “He was a gentleman, he was a godly man, and he made a difference in our community.”
At 10:13 p.m. on a June night, Alexei was walking through a crosswalk. Despite a flashing yellow light, the oncoming driver didn’t yield or slow down before hitting and killing him.
“He really reached out and made friends wherever he went, whether it was school or neighborhood, and he connected with people and really made a difference in a lot of people’s lives,” said Alexei’s father Eric Bauereis.
The crash was at the forefront of a troubling trend of cars hitting people in the years to come.
From 2017 to 2021 crashes in which drivers hit and killed people walking increased 34% in Texas, according to TxDOT. In that same time period, bicyclist fatalities increased 58%.
“The big reason is failure to yield the right-of-way, driver inattention, and speeding,” said TxDOT Spokesperson Glynda Chu.
In response to the spike, TxDOT is launching a campaign called “Be Safe. Drive Smart.”
With Austin’s natural beauty and outdoor lifestyle, the problem can become even more pronounced in the city.
In 2021, the city had 456 crashes involving pedestrians, according to TxDOT. Sixty-two people died, and 107 were seriously injured. In that same year, there were 235 crashes with bicyclists, including six fatalities, and 43 people seriously injured.
In addition to sharing the stories of those lost, TxDOT plans to have people out on Austin’s Congress Avenue wearing signs that share some of the troubling statistics.
“Pay attention to the pedestrians,” said Anna Bauereris. “Pay attention to people who are in crosswalks, pay attention to people who are on sidewalks.”