Hundreds of bicyclists crossed the Hays Street Bridge as the last sunset colors faded from the sky. They rode slowly and silently, honoring cycling community pillar Tito Bradshaw hours after his death.
Bradshaw was hit early Monday by a car. Doctors tried to save him but pronounced him dead that afternoon at 3:57, said his father, Harry Bradshaw Jr. He was 35 years old.
The cyclists rode to the intersection where Bradshaw was killed, Houston Street at North Palmetto Avenue. They lit candles and hung up a “ghost bike,” a bicycle painted white, to serve as a marking for Bradshaw. The symbol is common among cyclists, Peter Borges explained.
Borges said he has been riding his bike for a year now. He bought it from Bradshaw’s shop, the Bottom Bracket Bicycle Shop. The shop announced its closure in March, with the intention of reopening in the future.
“I didn’t know anything about bikes,” he said. “He made me feel a part of the community, instantaneously. He was always there.”
As cars passed, cyclists would call out “car” as a warning to each other. They shouted expletives at a truck who honked at them, angry that the driver did not slow down.
Samantha Flores watched cyclists hop back on their bikes and ride toward the Alamo. She wore a boot, a remnant of an accident she was in six months ago. Two cars struck her as she rode on Nacogdoches Road, right before Cherrity Bar opened for the first time. She was supposed to manage the Ramen Bar there.
She knew Bradshaw from her days working at Kimura, she said. He even donated a bicycle to Cherrity Bar to raise money for her medical expenses.
“I didn’t get to thank him,” she said. “He was a dude of unmatched character and had great taste in friends.”
Bradshaw’s father, Harry; his mother, Bernice; two sisters, Jennifer Dinger and Francine Sonntag; brother, Chris Reichert; and girlfriend, Shawnee Walker, gathered with cyclists on the Hays Street Bridge Monday night to remember Bradshaw. They stood in a receiving line, hugging many of Bradshaw’s friends and crying with them. Bernice, his mother, said they drove from Copperas Cove early in the morning after Bradshaw’s girlfriend reached out to let them know about the accident. His brother drove down separately from Dallas.
“I can’t even explain the drive, because it was devastating not knowing what was going on,” Bernice said.
Harry said they planned on taking Bradshaw home to Copperas Cove to bury him but would hold a funeral for his San Antonio friends to pay their respects.
“We don’t know what the date is going to be,” Harry said. “I’m going to get with some of the bike owners and have something formal to say goodbye.”
The person hurt the most by Bradshaw’s death would be his 5-year-old son, Valentino, Harry said.
“I don’t think he comprehends what happened right now,” he said.
Shawnee Walker, Bradshaw’s girlfriend of two years, said Valentino remains her No. 1 priority. She wants him to remember Bradshaw’s fearlessness, she said.
“I’m gonna love him enough for both of us,” she said. Her eyes looked up intensely. “He’ll have me for life.”
Harry said he hopes to be able to pass down Bradshaw’s bike shop to Valentino, somehow. And he also hopes to see Bradshaw’s legacy live on in San Antonio’s cycling community.
“I want to see if it’s possible to leave him … some aspects of what his dad did in San Antonio, so that Tito doesn’t go down without being remembered,” Harry said. “May his legacy live on, that bike riders get a fair break in San Antonio.”
Borges said change is necessary to protect cyclists in the city.
“Don’t ask what we’re going to do about it,” Borges said. “Ask who’s been hit by a bike. This is a daily concern in the cycling community, but no one [cares] because everyone’s driving.”
Flores chimed in, introducing herself to Borges and sharing her own story of being struck while riding a bicycle. Police have not been able to find either of the drivers that hit her, she said.
“I don’t know how many of my friends and I are going to have to be hit by cars until someone gives a f—,” she said.