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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Two cyclists die in accidents in less than a two week period in Memphis

Two cyclists die in accidents in less than a two week period in Memphis
By:  Michael Lander

The most recent cycling-related fatality in Memphis was at Sam Cooper and Tillman,
which is about 1.2 miles east of the Overton Park bicycle arch.  Because of the dangers
that intersections like this present to cyclists, the Memphis Metropolitan Planning
Organization recommended bike lanes at this intersection, among others.  The work
on this particular bike lane is expected to be completed within about six months.

In less than two weeks, two cyclists have been killed on our city streets.

The deaths have left friends and families with not only a terrible sense of loss, but with questions of how and why it happened.

The most recent fatality occurred on Monday evening, March 9, at around 8 p.m.  Zachary Walls, 40, of Memphis was identified as the latest victim.

This recent deadly incident occurred in the Binghamton neighborhood at the intersection of Sam Cooper and Tillman.  This cyclist was hit by a pick-up truck and he was pronounced dead at the scene. 

The driver of that pick-up, who hit Walls, 50-year-old Solomon Johnson of Memphis, remained at the scene of this accident as Memphis Police investigated and gathered details. Johnson was subsequently arrested and charged with driving on a suspended, revoked, or cancelled license and a violation of the financial and state registration law.

Only a week and six days before, Eric Dyrell Taylor, 34, was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver around 10:35 p.m., as he was riding on the 3300 block of New Getwell Road near Winchester.  He was riding from his residence in Whitehaven and was on his way to work at Swift Truck Company when he was killed. 

Because the driver fled the scene, Memphis Police Department's traffic investigators are asking that anyone who may have seen anything, or who might have some information regarding the accident that resulted in the death of Taylor, should call Crime Stoppers at 901-528-CASH.

These two cycling-related deaths are the fourth and fifth that the Memphis area has seen since 2010.  The one prior to these recent deaths occurred last July at U.S. Hwy 61 and Star Landing Rd in Desoto County in Mississippi.

While the circumstances and details surrounding these cycling fatalities may have been different, they did share at least one thing in common with one another.  Both of these cyclists were riding at night when poor visibility may have been a contributing factor, especially for the latest victim who was also riding while it was raining.

These two deadly accidents are a sad and tragic reminder of some of the dangers that cyclists can face any time that they ride and it furthers emphasizes the need for cyclists to remain vigilant, especially when riding in less than ideal conditions.

Even though accidents cannot always be avoided, cyclists can take some precautions to help minimize some of the risks that are involved, most notably, having bikes that are equipped with lights on the front and back, with reflectors, and by wearing bright and reflective clothing. 

Here is a link with some safety tips that cyclists might find especially helpful:

As the friends and families of these two Memphis area cyclists mourn the loss of their loved ones, the Memphis community should do what it can to help prevent this from happening to any other cyclists who ride and commute on our city streets.

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