Austin sees increase in crashes involving pedicabs - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Austin sees increase in crashes involving pedicabs

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Pedicabs are a normal sight around Austin and unfortunately, accidents involving them are becoming more common too.

Austin police have a unit dedicated specifically to hit and run accidents, or leave the scene collisions, as they call them.

FOX 7 spoke with APD and a pedicab driver, who was recently hit, about what needs to be done to catch those responsible. All he remembers is hearing a loud bang and then, lots of screaming.

"I've been through there hundreds of times," said Juan Valdez, Dirt Nail pedicab driver.

Valdez has been driving for Dirt Nail Pedicabs for over a year.

"It was so violent and I was being thrown in the air that I knew it wasn't something that I crashed into," he said.

It was June 3, a little before 2 a.m., when he was wheeling west bound on 5th Street, near Congress Avenue, and hit from behind by a car.

"Here's one of the wheels, which is pretty bent up," Valdez said. "The handlebars hit, hit my thigh a bunch of times, so I was bruised all along there. I was bruised up all along my left side." 

Several eyewitnesses to the hit and run snapped pictures of the driver's license plate and gave vehicle descriptions to police on scene.

"That's very good information to receive because it's something to go on, but if no one can identify the person driving at the time of the crash, it's very difficult to file charges," APD Officer Veneza Bremner said.

Bremner says there are so many LTS, or leave the scene crashes, a special unit was formed a few months ago to combat the problem.

"They get a lot of cases daily. It's not something that just happens here and there," Bremner said.

Police records show from January 1 to July 14, 2012, there were 5,121 LTS crashes. During the same months in 2013, there have been 5,202. That's 81 more leaving the scene crashes this year, compared to the same time frame from 2012.

"Leaving the scene crash cases are difficult to investigate and even more difficult to solve," Bremner said.

"With how much I had already, I thought--I didn't know that they needed more or that they were lacking anything," Valdez said. "I can't help but wonder if this was one of the kids of APD that got run over, would they be having trouble getting this person's insurance information? Or, district attorney's son? Or, anybody, anybody that has more pull than I do, would they be having the same trouble?"

Valdez says he can't help but be frustrated no one is being held accountable.

"Cars are pretty aggressive with us," Valdez said. "They like to get as close as they can to us, to let us know that they're there or they'll honk at us. And peel out, you know, just to go around us."

His body has almost fully recovered from the crash.

"It put me behind on my bills because I wasn't working," Valdez said.

So, Valdez's focusing on repairing his pedicab.

"The welding's even torn," he said.

He's fully insured, but the company needs to know who to send the bill to.

No one was in Valdez's pedicab at the time of the crash.

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