Man on bike hit while returning from vigil for dead cyclist
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A Baton Rouge cyclist was hit by a car Tuesday night while riding home from an event honoring the man from Monday's fatal bicycle accident.
"The only reason I believe I am alive is because I jumped up off of the bike and onto the car, instead of being directly hit by it," said Gordon Mese.
Mese was riding on Capital Heights Avenue around 10 p.m. Tuesday when he said a person in a car going north on Blanchard Street went through the intersection without stopping for the stop sign.
Mese's legs were badly injured and he was still unable to walk on Wednesday night. His face also received several severe cuts on his face. He is expected to make a full recovery and to be able to walk soon.
"It didn't matter that I was wearing a reflective jacket or that there were lights on my bike," Mese said.
Mese owns the Garden District Nursery on Government Street and ran for Baton Rouge mayor in 2012.
The accident happened in a community that has had bike lanes for years on both sides of the roadway.
"We consider it a safe road to bike on," said Mika Torkkola, a member of Bike Baton Rouge. "Unfortunately some people don't treat it that way."
Recently the Capital Heights community even took the additional step of petitioning to have the speed limit on the road reduced. That measure went into effect in the past few months, with the speed limit dropping from 30 to 25 miles per hour. Still, residents say they are not shocked by last night's accident.
"People are still not going 25, but 30, 35, sometimes faster. They just don't care," resident Karen Dake said.
Local residents are also quick to point out it is not just the bikers that use the bike lanes. Mese said that if someone else had been in his place Tuesday night, things could have been far worse.
"If somebody had been walking with their baby, walking their dog, we could have had a serious tragedy," Mese said. "The privilege to drive an automobile also gives you the responsibility to really drive your vehicle and not just be riding in it."
Not slowing down, members of the biking community took to the roads of Capital Heights again Wednesday night. Mese said he hopes he will be able to join them soon.
"I will be back on my bike supporting that community," Mese said.
Tyler Hicks, Vice President of the Capital Heights Neighborhood Association, released the following statement in light Tuesday's accident:
We're disappointed yet another incident bike related incident has happened in BR and even more so I our own neighborhood. capital Heights is known for being bike friendly because of our bike lane but more needs to be done to give our residents and neighbors from elsewhere a safe place to ride and walk. We look forward to working with Bike BR, CPEX and our elected leaders to install smart, progressive bike a pedestrian safety installations in our neighborhood and our city as a whole. We urge our city leaders at DPW to follow the "Compete Streets" mandate passed by the metro council and for BRPD to step up their efforts in enforcing all traffic laws that are broken every day like texting and driving, speeding, and driving through stop signs.
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