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Chief Acevedo, Austin Cycling Association discuss safety concerns

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Austin cyclists came ready to roll Thursday evening at the annual Austin Cycling Association's "Chat with the Chief."

It all started with a friendly ride to be followed by a panel discussion between the cycling community, police, courts and the District Attorney's office - with safety being the theme of the night.

"We're trying to understand the whole decision process from when an accident occurs to what happens in the courtroom and everything in between," said ACA president Stanton Truxillo.

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo and several of his officers hit the streets with the other cyclists.

"On both sides of this issue, drivers and motor vehicles and cyclists need to share the responsibility of obeying the rules of the road, being courteous, being safe and most important is being smart out there and sober," Acevedo said.

Truxillo says even though they have this event every year, this time the ACA has a burning question.

"To put it very bluntly, why is it that you can get a ticket for running a stop sign or running a stop light? But if you run over a cyclist in broad daylight from the back on the shoulder of a road, no citation issued? And it's happened not once but three times in the last year and a half," Truxillo said.

Truxillo estimates the average fatality rate for cyclists in Austin is something like 1.4 per year.

"Statistically that number of cyclists is not a very bad thing for a city our size. We more than doubled that this past year," Truxillo said.

One of the association members brought up Gabrielle Nestande and how she felt it was an example of someone not being held accountable.

"That leads to the breakdown of society. If we aren't all responsible for what we've done, even if it wasn't done intentionally then the basic rules of civilized behavior go away and that's tragic," Truxillo said.

We asked Chief Acevedo about Truxillo's burning question regarding the 3 fatalities and the drivers not being properly punished.

"That's an urban legend. We've got three and two have been charged with felonies and I think people know how I feel about accountability. If someone's not arrested it's because a crime wasn't committed. Trust me, we're very aggressive," Acevedo said.

During the meeting, ACA members expressed that they wished they had known about the citations.

So the ACA and APD agreed to reevaluate some of their communication practices.

We spoke briefly with a former president of the ACA who said he was very happy with the meeting and it "exceeded their expectations."

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