Metro promotes bike-safety awareness after deadly bike, train collision

HOUSTON – The Harris County Metro Rail system reached historic highs for ridership during Super Bowl 51.

But the success of the weekend was nearly overshadowed by back-to-back tragedies.

Since opening in 2004, the Metro Rail has only had two fatalities involving a train and bicyclist. This weekend, that number doubled in just three days.

The first was Friday morning when a Rice University professor tried to bike through a rail crossing ahead of an oncoming train.

The second happened Sunday, during the beginning of the big game. A man was riding the wrong way on a 610 feeder when he collided with a train.

"Anytime you have accidents, we ought to be looking at what's happening to see if there are better ways we can do things to improve safety," Metro CEO Tom Lambert said.

Metro Rail authorities are big proponents of safety around their trains, and have put out public service announcements hoping to spark safety awareness.

"Following that safety message, that awareness, helps," Lambert said.

But BikeHouston advocates said with an average of five bicyclist deaths a year in Houston, something needs to change both on the tracks and the streets.

"We know humans are going to make mistakes, so it was a mistake to ride in front of a train, but how do you make it less likely to make a mistake and less likely your mistake results in death?" said Mary Blitzer, Advocacy Director of BikeHouston.

BikeHouston said they've created a 10-year plan to add more than 500 miles of bike-safe lanes inside the city of Houston.

They said that plan will be presented to the Transportation Technology and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Monday. They will then pass it on for a final vote by City Council the following week.