LETTER: Pedestrian, cyclist and driver safety

Recently, I was involved in an accident. To avoid misconception, I would like to explain what happened. I collided with a cyclist and immediately rendered aid and called for emergency help. The cyclist was treated at the scene and released from the hospital that same day with no major injuries. I never left the scene until I was dismissed by a police officer and the police had expressed that they had completed their assessment of the scene.

This brings to mind a minor parking lot incident I was involved in, that occurred many years ago, where I backed out of a parking space and hit a car that was double-parked behind me. I got out of my car and spoke with the driver of the other vehicle and discussed the incident. We both noted that there was not any damage to either vehicle as it had been just a minor bump of the bumpers of my car and his pick-up.

I went on to my conduct my business. I was never told by the owner of the double-parked vehicle that he wanted a police report. Weeks later, I received notice that a warrant for my arrest had been issued because the gentleman I hit, who was double-parked, claimed I left the scene. When notified, I voluntarily surrendered myself and a court date was set. On that court date the evidence was reviewed and the court dismissed the case.

While I deeply regret being involved in these accidents, the most recent incident reinforces the need to become more aware of and continue to reinforce pedestrian, bicycle and driver safety and awareness in McAllen and regionally. As one of your city leaders I have been encouraging outdoor physical activities for years. In fact, I have been involved in the building of countless miles of hike-and-bike trails and I have plans of promoting more to encourage exercise, well-being and outdoor activities.

With the pandemic, more people are out on the trails and streets walking and riding bicycles. As the city continues to grow, so will the potential conflict for autos and pedestrians. I have made efforts to promote safety regionally through the run, ride and share program I initiated in 2013. This includes creating more and also safer crosswalks, with increased signage and better warning systems.

A key component to all road safety includes awareness campaigns for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. While this can be a part of our city signage, social media and city communications, this safety education needs to extend beyond just the city of McAllen.

Veronica Whitacre