SAN ANTONIO — The growing San Antonio cycling community faces close and sometimes deadly encounters with drivers.
According to San Antonio Police officials, one cyclist has died so far this year after being struck by a car. Marsha Symons, with cycling group San Antonio Lady Riders, said she has heard it all from drivers while cycling.
"Screaming at us, 'Get off the road!'" Symons said. "Drivers don't think cyclists belong on the road."
The ladies in the group hit the road at least once a week. She said the Thursday ride requires everyone to wear a helmet and have front and back lights. She said they have to be hyper-vigilant, including the use of hand signals.
"Our thought process is we are going to be safe, and as safe as we can be," she said.
San Antonio Police say in the past five years, 19 cyclists have died in the Alamo City after being hit by a car. They report 10 were not wearing a helmet.
"It makes me more aware when I am riding," Symons said.
SAPD Bike Patrol Officer Thomas Besich said he has seen an increase in cyclists in the downtown area. May is National Bike Month, and Officer Besich wants to reminder drivers to be aware.
"Never forget that a bicyclist is a vulnerable road user," he said. "They don't have all the safety features that an automobile would have."
"They have 3,000-plus pounds. I have this and this," Symons added, gesturing to her bike and helmet. "I can't win."
Police said there isn't a spot in the city where most cycling deaths occur.
"Be more aware of the users of that roadway," the officer said.
"Be aware," Symons said. "Stay off your phone. Don't drive drunk."
Besich said a common mistake drivers make when next to cyclists is their proximity to them.
"So the state requires you to give a three-foot buffer when go pass a cyclist," he said. "Just to make sure the cyclist has enough clearance."