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Andrew Runciman’s dad issues heartfelt plea; memorial ride Saturday to honor young cyclist.

2011 April 29

To say it’s been an emotional week would be an understatement: Every time I ride my bike, I can’t but be reminded of Andrew Runciman’s tragic passing over the weekend. Ghost Bikes seem to be a little more noticeable. And since Andrew was heartlessly hit from behind by an SUV, whenever I hear a car rolling up behind me, the hairs on my neck stand up.

Our post on Andrew’s passing and the discussion of cyclist-driver relations it spawned got a larger response than I could have ever imagined. With over 1300 hundred shares on Facebook and more than 10,000 views, this post is our biggest non-SXSW post ever. To me, that means this city not only bonds together in times of tragedy, but is also hungry to discuss-as a community-the paths we must go down to prevent further tragedies like this one from happening.

The conversation in the comments for that post are pretty extensive. With all the discussion on helmets or amount of space to use in a lane, you may have missed a comment from Andrew’s dad. What he has to say is pretty important, take a look:

Tom Runciman PERMALINK
April 27, 2011

I am Andrew’s dad. I can’t tell you the pain we are going through. Andrew was a special human being. We home schooled him through primary grades and he went to a liberal arts high school. He had vast interests in ancient history, Latin, art, math, music, graphics arts and of course computer programming. The world has lost an incredible human being.

He just moved to Austin in September and did not have the money to move his bike or his helmet. Just weeks ago he had enough money to buy a bike but he did not have a helmet yet, but I don’t think a helmet would have helped. He was hit with such force he was probably dead at the scene except for modern medicine and mechanical ventilation. I think a helmet would have made it worse. He would have ended up as a vegetable or a quadriplegic.

Austin, we need to catch the person that did this?

And we need to change the structure of transportation in this country. Andrew and I traveled to Europe and we saw the bike lanes separated from motorized traffic. We both wondered why can’t this be done in the USA. Bike lanes don’t work. You must have a separate roadway for bikes. When will we ever learn in this country.

My wife and my daughter will live on but we will never be the same again without the presence of Andrew.

Just to reiterate: We need to find this motorist. Anyone who can hit a human being from behind with a 4000-pound car and then leave them is a despicable character. It’s heartless murder and needs to be punished.

If you have ANY information, please call APD Vehicular Homicide Unit Detectives at (512) 974-8164.

Also, as we move into a world with high gas prices and environmentally-impacting transportation habits, we need to welcome and embrace alternative means of travel. We need to watch out for the smaller guys on the roads: Cars look after cyclists. Cyclists look after pedestrians. And our city needs to start promoting education so that these growing pains don’t lead to future tragedy.


To honor Andrew and raise awareness of bicyclists as humans, there will be a social ride of gigantic proportions on Saturday that everyone should try to attend.

Andrew Runciman’s Memorial Ride and Ghost Bike Dedication (Facebook Event)

Last weekend, on Saturday Night, Andrew Runciman, a great guy by all accounts, a local cyclist and a frequenter of our Thursday rides was killed in a hit and run incident on South Lamar Blvd. The driver has yet to be found.

This Saturday, April 30th at 6:30 pm, we will ride in his memory and attend a ghost bike dedication by his family and friends.

I want to urge ALL of you to come. When something this tragic happens it’s important that we show support to the family, friends and each other. This could be ANYONE OF US who rides. Situations like this require that we come together not only to grieve and show respect but to make the general public aware that bike riders are human beings and that a mere momentary lack of attention can change many lives dramatically and instantly. If you come on our rides or not. If you ride bikes around the city or not. It is VERY VERY important that you take a couple of hours out of your Saturday evening and join us.

If you can’t ride with us, I invite you to attend the ghost bike dedication in Andrew’s memory. The schedule of events is as follows:

Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge

6pm- volunteer ride leader meeting (we need tons of help, please try to make it)
6:30- riders arrive at bridge
7pm- ride leaves bridge headed to the ghost bike dedication
7:30ish- ride arrives at 3506 South Lamar (in front of Red’s Porch) for a brief ghost bike dedication service by family and friends
8pm- ride heads back to bridge where where it ends at around 8:30.

6pm at the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge (map: for the memorial ride.
7:30pm at3506 South Lamar for the ghost bike dedication.

WHAT: A memorial ride and ghost bike dedication.

HOW: Social Cycling Austin rides AS traffic and NOT AGAINST it. We stop at red lights, yield the right of way and let cars pass as best we can. We don’t block intersections. We are cool to both our fellow riders and the other traffic on the road. Listen up to those volunteers who are helping to lead the ride. They are some nice folks and have you best interest in mind.


I hope to see a bunch of you on the bridge tomorrow night. Please be careful out there.


[UPDATE: Brett Hurt, Founder and CEO of Andrew's employer Bazzaarvoice, called all Austin software CEOs (about 120 CEOs) to join the ride, including their employees that are into cycling. Thanks, Brett.]

Andrew with his bicycle in Tennessee

Ride safely, y’all. Be kind to each other. I don’t want us to have to install another one of these any time soon:

Ghost Bike photo from The New York Times


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8 Responses leave one →
  1. Rick Ford permalink
    April 29, 2011

    Here’s a link to the Facebook event.

  2. April 29, 2011

    I’ve avoided reading this tragic story until now because I can’t stand to think how callous a person must be to commit a hit and run. I accept that a driver could momentarily loose concentration or become distracted resulting in a horrible accident but to leave. It’s monsterous. Unfortunately, I see people treating cars like toys and roads like a playground. I use segregated paths as much as possible and installed a side mirror on my handlebars (and on my husbands bike) because I know this could happen to any of us in any city. We must actively challenge the notion that the road is for cars only while also vigorously advocating for more and better bike infrastructure.

  3. April 29, 2011

    Sending out our thoughts to Andrew’s family, friends, and Austin cyclists. A

  4. Maris permalink
    April 30, 2011

    I moved from Austin 4 years ago to Seattle, WA. While visiting family and friends recently in Austin, I was struck at how aggressive and fast people were driving, especially down Lamar Blvd. I used to ride my bmx bike down that street every day in my younger years and just shudder to think that this hit and run has happened to such a beautiful young soul.
    It is time to re-think modern living. It is time to consider bikes and pedestrians OVER cars and gas. Hopefully something good will come from such a tragedy.

  5. Maggie Parker permalink
    May 1, 2011

    My son was a victim of hit and run over a year ago. He had injuries but he lived and is fine now. I felt disbelief and outrage. I feel deeply for Andrew’s family.

  6. May 2, 2011

    I met Andrew at a birthday party in early March. I talked to him for about 20 minutes, but I could tell he was very intelligent and a helpful, kind soul. He gave me and my boyfriend advice on traveling to Japan and even knew some Japanese. He had a good vibe and I enjoyed being around him. I don’t think I gave him a hug goodbye, which I regret, but I do remember saying something about hoping we meet again.

    Andrew lived in the same apartment complex as I do, which is about 50 feet from the location of the accident. He was *almost* home. I want to have compassion for how the driver is feeling right now, and why they decided to leave the scene of the crime, but I’m finding it difficult. Having courage is being afraid to do something and doing it anyway. This person needs to own what they did and recognize the monumental impact they’ve made on so many people’s lives. Seeing pictures of my friends crying on each other in mourning has been so painful. I cannot even begin to what his parents and sister must be feeling right now, or to imagine what Emily Knight has been going through having witnessed this crime. I hope we can all see the gift in this tragedy soon. Thank you to all who participated in the dedication ride; the image of 300 cyclists riding together for a single purpose is extremely powerful. To all who are feeling empty and lost right now, I am so sorry for your loss.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. Memory ride for Andrew Runciman scheduled for Saturday evening | Austin On Two Wheels
  2. Austin Police looking for hit-and-run driver who killed Austin bicyclist | The MusicMissionary

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