Father mourns dead son: ‘Every time, I remember him’
hood was teeming with families on their way to school, a local health clinic or the community mosque.
Wigdan walked with Osman, 8, Rawan, 6, and Mohammed. A MetroLift bus stopped. They walked out in front of it into the crosswalk, marked every few feet with thick white stripes.
Then a black GMC Acadia hit Mohammed.
“She just moved without looking at what was going on,” Wigdan recalled.
The driver — who was not ticketed or charged with any crime — dragged Mohammed for about 20 feet before the driver noticed Wigdan running after her, waving and screaming.
Mohammed died on impact. A report filed after the crash said the little boy “failed to yield the right of way” to the driver who hit him.
Each case is different, authorities say. On Wednesday, a bus driven by a Metropolitan Transit Authority driver struck and killed a woman at a Spring bus stop. Within hours, he was charged in Harris County with criminally negligent homicide.
For families, the losses remain regardless of court action. To lose Mohammed’s daily smile was devastating, said Aboobiada Ali Abdalla, his father.
Community activists want to turn a patch of ground near the crash site into a memorial.
Abdalla, 48, went there on a recent Sunday, retracing his son’s final steps in the evening light.
“Every time,” he said, “I remember him.”
A greater cost
Disabled residents face particularly acute challenges moving around the area.
“When we think about what pedestrians look like, and how they might be interacting with our streets … we need to be envisioning a 65-year-old (wheelchair) user,” said Maria Town, director of Houston’s Office for People With Disabilities.
Houston requires sidewalk improvements as part of redevelopment of properties or rebuilding of streets but leaves most of the control in the hands of landowners. As a result, many sidewalks in the oldest parts of the city are dilapidated, with portions lifted by tree roots that make them impassable for wheelchair users and people unsteady on their feet.
Many of the areas with residents most in need of decent walking paths to access transit have among the worst sidewalks, according to the local advocacy group LINK Houston and the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University.
Residents can report problem areas to the city for an Accessibility Review Request, Town said, but that alone isn’t enough to solve the problem.
“Accessibility needs to be a prime driver for safety and vice versa,” she said. “If streets are not safe, they’re not accessible. If people don’t feel safe walking around, they’re not going to.”
All too frequently, infrastructure projects prioritize automobiles over pedestrian safety, advocates say.
“Not enough money is allocated to pedestrian and bicycle projects,” said Clark Martinson, executive director of BikeHouston. “We have got to be thinking of other sources of funding.”
The Houston-Galveston Area Council, the regional planning agency that doles out federal transportation money, includes $388.5 million for bicycle and pedestrian improvements over the
Mohammed impact. A report died on filed after the crash said the little boy “failed to yield the right of way” to the driver who hit him.
next two decades — out of a total transportation plan of $88.3 billion. Some roadway projects contribute to pedestrian improvements, though it is usually 1 or 2 percent of total projects.
Advocates for more sidewalks and bike lanes admit they need to lobby better. Road projects are well-funded because lawmakers hear from drivers and developers who demand more roads.
“We have got to sell this in our communities,” said Harris County Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis, an avid cyclist.
Ellis offered $10 million in county funds to help Houston officials address key connections to improve safety for riders and walkers. Ellis’ goal, he said, was addressing that many people in Houston do not own a car and still need a safe way to school or work. Much of the money would add trails and bike lanes in places caused by Houston’s growth, he said, but where developers never installed them.
‘I AM NOT DONE’
Doug Baysinger still chokes up reliving the bicycle crash. He’s still angry.
The driver wasn’t ticketed. It isn’t illegal to fall asleep while driving.
“For her to not even get a ticket, and to cause so much pain and suffering … it’s just beyond me,” Doug Baysinger said.
Joyce, who fully recovered, abandoned cycling. She doesn’t even like to get on stationary bikes — it just brings back memories of the crash.
“I keep hearing a bunch of friends getting hit by a car,” she said. “And I’m just scared. Scared for them, scared for Doug.”
Doug remains in chronic pain. He stopped riding for months but eventually missed it so much he recently started again. He got a tattoo on his left forearm. “I AM NOT DONE,” it declares.
“When I stop riding, it will be because I want to stop riding,” he said. “Not because I’m afraid.”
Wigdan Ahmed Mohammed, shown with her two daughters, Rawan, left, and Rahuf, saw her son, 4-year-old Mohammed Ali Abdalla, hit by a vehicle two years ago while in a crosswalk.
Houston police officers investigate the scene of a pedestrian death in 2017 on Westheimer near Hayes Road.