South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Police probe in final stages; city officials pursue options to promote cycling safety

Club requesting city become Bicycle Friendly Community
Mark Furrer
Mark Furrer

While awaiting the results of a police investigation into an incident involving Sunset Hills Mayor Mark Furrer and a bicyclist who alleged that the mayor ran him over in an intentional hit-and-run, city officials are pursuing options to promote cycling safety.

Representatives of the St. Louis Triathlon Club, which had threatened to boycott the Sunset Hills Triathlon, are impressed with the city’s response to their concerns, and the Aug. 24 race will go on as scheduled.

The St. Louis County Police Department is in the final stages of its investigation of the alleged hit-and-run, and Police Officer Brian Schellman said he expected a police report would be released midweek — after the Call went to press.

None of the aldermen have any information on the county’s investigation, and they do not plan to issue a statement at this time, Board of Aldermen acting President Scott Haggerty told the Call.

“It was an individual act that the mayor did,” he said, noting that while he understands why observers would lump other city officials in with the mayor when they criticize him for the incident, no one else in the city was involved.

Although Furrer typically attends all the meetings of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, the mayor was not present when the panel met Aug. 6.

The future of the Aug. 24 triathlon was in jeopardy after the July 29 incident when Chip Self, managing partner for Town and Country triathlon store Swim Bike Run and the title sponsor of the city’s triathlon, said that he and hundreds of other members of the St. Louis Triathlon Club might boycott the race in protest.

The Fenton bicyclist who alleges that Furrer hit him, Randy Murdick, is a founding member of the Triathlon Club. Furrer said that he did not hit Murdick and that Murdick grabbed onto his car in anger after Furrer told him not to run a stop sign.

But Murdick said that three eyewitnesses completely back his account of events.

The club’s triathletes make up a significant percentage of the competitors in the race and provide most of the volunteers, so it would be difficult for the event to be a success without their participation, Self noted.

“The knee-jerk reaction from the members of the club was, if this is the way Sunset Hills is going to handle things, we don’t feel safe riding our bikes there,” Self said. “If the city doesn’t show any signs of, ‘Hey, this is wrong, we want to fix this,’ it puts us in a position where we kind of have to back out.”

Originally, the group requested an apology from Furrer.

However, Self said the show will go on after he had a “very productive” meeting with Parks Director Gerald Brown and four aldermen last week, including Haggerty and Patricia Fribis of Ward 4.

“Based on the city’s willingness to do the right thing, the club has agreed that we’re going to back this thing,” he said. “We’re 100 percent behind it, and we’ll do everything we can to make it great.”

Registration for the fifth annual triathlon is lagging behind other years, said race director Ryan Harrison, but triathletes can register up to the day of the race online and then at the race itself the day of the event.

All of the aldermen except Kurt Krueger of Ward 3 attended an Aug. 2 rally where nearly 200 cyclists rode through the streets to Sunset Hills City Hall, where aldermen greeted them with water and a sign welcoming them to Sunset Hills. Krueger was out of town, he said.

Haggerty said that he and the rest of the aldermen thought their presence would be a nice gesture to show support for the cyclists and promote road safety.

“It wasn’t like it was an officially planned event — I pitched my canopy tent, somebody brought up a table, we all pitched in and bought some water,” he said. “It was just something we did as individuals.”

Some of Haggerty’s friends are cyclists, and they have had people throw things at them from cars and had other abuse directed at them, he said, adding, “I guess I was brought up differently — I don’t get that. My mind doesn’t go there.”

hat Sunset Hills pursue national certification as a Bicycle Friendly Community, which is offered through the League of American Bicyclists.

It is tricky to get certified for bicycle-friendly roads in Sunset Hills since some of its main thoroughfares, including Lindbergh Boulevard and Gravois Road, are owned by the state, not the city, Haggerty noted.

Still, it seems like it is a worthy goal for the city to pursue over the next year, he said.

Brown and Public Works Director Bryson Baker will meet with the head of the League of American Bicyclists this fall to discuss what the city can do to pursue the certification. The proposal would have to be approved by the Parks Board, the Public Works Committee and the Board of Aldermen.

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