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'You're in the car to drive': Quad-Cities bike shop owners react to cyclist death
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'You're in the car to drive': Quad-Cities bike shop owners react to cyclist death

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A bicyclist struck and killed Thursday by a speeding motorist was the third cyclist fatality in a month in the Quad-Cities. Local bike shop owners say drivers need to be more attentive. 

"When you're in a car, you're not in a car for socializing. You're not in a car for social media. You're in a car to drive. The lives of everybody around you, including those in your car and out of your car, are your responsibility," said Bruce Grell, owner of Healthy Habits bike shop in Bettendorf.

Grell said Alex Marietta, the man killed Thursday, had been a regular customer at his store for years. 

"Being in this business around here for 30+ years, if somebody gets hit and killed on a bicycle or gets in an accident, a lot of times we know them, so we do take it pretty personally," Grell said.

Marietta, 40, of Geneseo, was riding his bicycle southbound on Davenport Avenue at 3:02 p.m. when he was struck by a red Chevrolet Tahoe that failed to stop for a red light while traveling westbound on Kimberly Road. 

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The Tahoe fled the scene, but police later identified the driver as Bobby Fitzgerald Hunt Jr., 33, of Davenport. 

Hunt is charged with one count each of homicide by vehicle, reckless driving, leaving the scene of a fatality crash and interference with official acts. 
 
Grell said he doesn't ride his bike on city streets here anymore, because he's seen too many distracted drivers and he doesn't feel safe on the roads.
 
"I see people texting on their phones. I see people Facetiming on their phones and talking on their phones while they're driving. And I see it on a daily basis," Grell said. "It's not just cyclists. It's not safe to walk across the street when you're out for a stroll with your family anymore."

Marietta is the third cyclist killed in a month on Quad-City roads. Charles W. Hubbard, 13, was riding his bike in Moline on May 4 when he was struck by a police cruiser. Officer Katherine Pennacchio is on administrative leave, pending an investigation.

Shortly after midnight that same day, Hugh D. Martin, 60, of Rock Island, was hit by an SUV on the Rock River Bridge on Route 84. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver was a 27-year-old Colona man police have not identified.

Grell said that while he believes many cyclist deaths are the result of distracted driving, cyclists also have a responsibility to follow traffic laws and keep themselves safe. 

"People ride around on bikes sometimes and people also drive around in cars sometimes with this sense of entitlement, and nobody's life is worth risking for that. It just doesn't make sense," Grell said.

Jerry Neff, owner of Jerry and Sparky's Cycling in Davenport, echoed Grell's thoughts. Neff said that since so many motorists are distracted, cyclists should be extra cautious.

"I think the cyclists just have to step up their awareness, because the motorists aren't paying attention with the texting and everything going on. It's pretty dangerous out there," Neff said.

Dave Ring, president of the Quad Cities Bike Club, said cyclists can find tips for staying safe on the QCBC's website, where they have a series of bicycle safety videos available to the public. 

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