Chattanooga: Meek's death touches bicycling community

Chattanooga: Meek's death touches bicycling community

March 10th, 2009 by Adam Crisp in Local Regional News

Staff Photo by Margaret Fenton<br> About 50 cyclists gathered Monday morning outside the J. Avery Bryan Funeral Home on McCallie Avenue to escort the body of fellow cyclist David Meek to Chattanooga Memorial Park Cemetery. Mr. Meek was killed by a truck while riding his bicycle on Ashland Terrace early Friday morning.

Staff Photo by Margaret Fenton<br> About 50 cyclists gathered...

The type of cycling accident that killed a Red Bank business owner and father of two is all too common, cyclists say.

David Leonard Meek, 51, died Friday as a result of a bicycle accident on Ashland Terrace. Chattanooga police say Mr. Meek was thrown from his bike and fatally injured when a large truck traveling on his left snagged an attached saddle bag.

"People in vehicles get too close to bikes. ... It happens every day I ride," said Sgt. Doug Elliott, who supervises the Chattanooga Police Department's nine-person bicycle unit. "They forget that they have mirrors and anything else sticking out from their vehicles, and they don't give us enough room."

Police haven't said whether the driver of the big truck was at fault. Lt. Kim Noorbergen, police spokeswoman, said the crash is under investigation.

Tennessee law requires motorists to give all cyclists at least three feet of space when passing, but according to the police report Mr. Meek was biking about 6:30 a.m., when it still was dark.

"David was a real stickler for the rules," said fellow cyclist and friend Jim Farmer. "His bike was lit up like a Christmas tree at night."

Mr. Farmer said his friend was an advocate for Chattanooga's bike-to-work program. He built and sold Privateer Bicycles and also owned Tennessee Tool and Machine Works. That's in addition to being an active member of the Chattanooga Bicycle Club and Scenic City Velo, another cycling club.

On Thursday evening, Mr. Meek posted a message encouraging other bikers to take to the roads Friday because of the beautiful weather.

"Tomorrow promises to be a beautiful day," Mr. Meek wrote. "It's the next day of the rest of your life. See you on the road."

Mr. Meek was passionate about biking and inspired many people to take up the activity, Mr. Farmer said.

"He was the real deal, and he did all of it for the right reasons," Mr. Farmer said. "He didn't want praise or a trophy. He just enjoyed being a part of it."

On Monday, a group of nearly 50 cyclists rode in front of the hearse carrying Mr. Meek's remains to his burial. His private funeral was held Monday morning. A throng of well-wishers turned out for the family visitation the night before.

Mr. Meek is survived by his wife, Suzanne, and a daughter and son, Holley and Mitchell.