Follow up Q&A: A Life Taken by Hayward’s Unsafe Designs
The brother of a cyclist killed in Hayward last June speaks out about decisions that led to his brother's death--and the pain of seeing deadly designs go unchanged
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Richard Heard Jr., 55, father of six, was killed by a combination of a reckless motorist and an unsafe street design on W. Tennyson Road in Hayward while he was riding his bike to work last June.
At the time, Streetsblog reached out via social media to Perry Heard, 57, the victim’s brother. Last weekend Perry, who previously lived in California but now lives in Kansas City, responded. Streetsblog spoke with him Monday about the death of his brother, the unsafe conditions on Tennyson, and the lack of response from the city.
Streetsblog: I can’t imagine what you’re going through now but thanks for reaching out. Have you been back to California since it happened?
Perry Heard: I went out to identify his body… and I went out there to see what is really going on. I got hold of the coroner. It was a tragedy. Our father just passed in May, and Richard came down here, for my dad’s funeral. I sent him back. He got run over. I lost my dad and my brother.
SB: Did you see where it happened?
PH: When I went out there and seen where he got hit at… why is the bike lane where the traffic is instead of where you can pull your car over?
SB: You know they recently repaved and could have put in a protected bike lane, with concrete or a row of parked cars protecting cyclists from traffic? The city decided not to.
Tennyson itself was identified as Hayward’s highest priority corridor for bike/walk safety upgrades in 2018, via a Spanish-language community workshop co-hosted by @BikeEastBay @UCBSafeTREC & @CaliforniaWalks. https://t.co/vlrB89kRsX
— Robert Prinz (@prinzrob) June 27, 2021
PH: No, I didn’t hear that. Then I think the bike lane should have been moved. At least change that street so nobody else can lose their family member like that.
SB: Have you heard anything about the hit-and-run driver?
PH: The witnesses seen the truck driver get impatient. He was swerving around cars and he got in the bike lane and he punched it. I think my brother died instantly. The coroner said he never seen it coming.
SB: The driver’s still at large?
PH: KTVU had it on the news. My nephew said after somebody saw the news, somebody sent something to my nephew saying they had a license plate number and a description of the truck who hit him.
SB: And the police? Did that go anywhere?
PH: They keep telling me they got leads. Like a broken record.
SB: Can you tell me about growing up with Richard? Did you ride bikes together?
PH: We used to go to Coney Island in Oklahoma–we had one in Tulsa way back in the 1970s. But we rode everywhere. We rode to our friend’s house, our auntie’s, our uncle’s. We rode everywhere, we rode to the big steep hills and dare-deviled down them. We had a little bike gang back in the days. Kids don’t do that today.
SB: And you stayed close?
PH: Oh yeah. We were pretty much the best of friends. We were boon coons (laughed). The day before he got killed; I talked to him that night. We’ve been buddies for 55 years. It’s really kind of hard on me. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t talk to people for like a month. We were prepared for my dad dying. He’d been in a nursing home.
SB: But not your brother.
PH: It’s hard to swallow. He rode his bike and gets killed?
SB: It was so unnecessary.
PH: The man who did it deserves to go to prison. He didn’t even check. He could have called an ambulance… and nothing is getting done about it. I can’t bring my brother back, but I could sleep better at night if some kind of change were happening–not just people getting hit with nothing getting done.
SB: Do you have anything you’d like to tell the City of Hayward?
PH: Just do what’s right. Please look at it like it was your family member or your brother. I wish the city would do their jobs faster. Change that lane for one, my God! I’ve never seen nothing like that. Next to ongoing traffic. My heart cringed when I seen that. Do something so my heart can be at ease.
(This interview was edited.)
Streetsblog reached out to the City of Hayward when it wrote its original story in June and again today and will update this post. Meanwhile, Bike East Bay’s Dave Campbell said Hayward staff are working on getting a protected bike lane on nearby Patrick Avenue, but they have no plans to improve Tennyson Road.
Be sure to check out the GoFundMe page from Richard Heard’s family.