UPDATE: About 200 bicyclists rode on New Year's Day to remember a fellow cyclist who suffered a fatal injury in a Christmas Eve crash in a Kansas City intersection.
The memorial was in honor of 31-year-old Pablo Sanders who died Monday.
Police say the driver remained at the scene, and alcohol was not a factor.
Sanders was active in the cycling community.
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- A well-loved member of Kansas City’s cycling community is fighting for his life tonight after he was hit by a car while riding his bike on Christmas Eve.
On Friday, cyclists from all over the metro were planning meet at the Sunfresh in Westport for a Critical Mass bike ride, which they do on the last Friday of every month. However, today it was to show support for Pablo Sanders Jr.
Sanders regularly rode his bike and is a friend to many.
“We just need him back,” said Christina Decker, who owns Midwest Cyclery. “Just sending him all the good juju, prayers, and vibes, and all the other good stuff.”
Decker and her husband are devastated that their good friend and riding buddy was hit by a car while riding his bike on his normal route to and from home late Tuesday night.
Police said a driver going north on Southwest Trafficway was going through a green light when the bicycle, which was going west on Valentine, went into the intersection.
They said the driver tried to avoid the bike but couldn’t.
Sanders was taken to a nearby hospital with a life-threatening head injury. He was wearing a helmet.
Police said the driver did stay with Sanders until help arrived. They have ruled out alcohol and speed as factors in the crash.
Now, the cycling community is praying Sanders recovers.
“In four and half years, I’ve never not seen him smile,” Decker said. “I’ve never not seen him laugh. I mean, the guy just has a ton of fun in life. There’s no strangers. Especially if you’re on a bike, you’re his best friend.”
“He’s just a great guy who’s really gregarious and friendly,” said Eric Rogers, Executive Director of Bike Walk KC. “I think I met him like a lot of people. He just pulled up to me while I was out on my bike one day and introduced himself and said, ‘Hi,’ and I think that kind of how a lot of people know Pablo.”
“I’m crushed, but these guys... but these guys, they are just devastated," Decker said. "They’re angry. It hurts because it’s just the one guy [who] if you want to go ride, he’s there.”
Cyclists say the intersection where the crash happened at is busy and very dangerous intersection and they’d like to see it improved.
“There’s just so many cars going on them and so fast," Decker said.
“There are a lot of challenges with that particular intersection that lead to things like folks not having enough time to cross the street," Rogers said.
Bike Walk KC, where Rogers works, is a nonprofit that works to make KC a safer place to walk or ride a bike.
“I’d have to give us a D for bike lanes, unfortunately," Rogers said. "We don’t have many and the ones we do don’t really connect to each other, so we have a very isolated, scattered system.”
Newly elected Councilman Eric Bunch represents the 4th District and said that, a couple years ago, KC set out to update its master bike plan. It then stalled a little, but he wants to revisit it.
He said, “I’ve got an ordinance drafted ready to go, I just need to start communicating with my colleagues on the council to say, ‘This is a priority, and we need to move forward, and vote, and approve the bike plan.”
He said another plan called the Midtown Complete Streets Plan looks at how to make streets like Broadway, 39th Street, and Southwest Trafficway better.
“That’ something we need to bring back to the light of day and have the rest of council look at it,” he said. “Maybe we adopt that through a resolution, but it’s clear that following the Christmas Eve crash with Pablo we need to do something.”