Reckless Driver Kills Grandfather and Bike Advocate Scott Hendrickson

Scott Hendrickson died last week at the age of 62. Photo: Jeffrey Fisher
Scott Hendrickson died last week at the age of 62. Photo: Jeffrey Fisher

Scott Hendrickson, a beloved cyclist, pedicab driver and bike shop worker with a macabre sense of humor, died after being hit by a reckless driver last week at one of Denver’s many unsafe intersections — the first person on a bike killed so far this year.

Police have offered little information about the moments leading up to the crash that killed Hendrickson on Friday, July 12, but friends of the cyclist said the death is a wake-up call for a city that has too many dangerous places and too many cars.

A small wooden cross, flowers and candles were left at the scene of Hendrickson's death. Photo: Andy Bosselman
A small wooden cross, flowers and candles were left at the scene of Hendrickson’s death.

“He was an avid cyclist, so if somebody like that is killed by a motorist, you know that we’ve got a problem,” said Hendrickson’s friend Brad Evans, founder of the Denver Cruisers Ride.

Few details have been released about the crash, except that it occurred at around 5:45 p.m. near the West-Bar-Val-Wood Park in the Valverde neighborhood. Cops say the driver of a minivan headed south on South Tejon Street crashed into Hendrickson, who was cycling westbound on W. Bayaud Avenue.

Hendrickson, 62, died the next day. The driver remained on the scene, but was not charged.

Screen Shot 2019-07-18 at 2.09.26 PM

Friends mourned the bike riding activist with the big personality — who once joked about his own death by sending a around photo of himself and his bike with the caption, “Not dead yet.”

“He was an avid cyclist, a devoted dad, a true-blue friend,” said Evans. “If he knew who was in the pedicab, he’d take you on the ride of your life.”

Stop bars, which indicate where drivers should stop, have mostly faded at the intersection.
Stop bars, which indicate where drivers should stop, have mostly faded at the intersection.

Hendrickson was an experienced bike rider and his death highlights how dangerous the city’s streets can be, said Evans.

Hendrickson had been riding in a bike lane that ended at the intersection where he was killed. The white line indicating where drivers should stop has mostly faded. There are no crosswalks and few sidewalks nearby.

The city recently installed a traffic calming island at the intersection, but not where the crash happened. Cycling advocates say the Department of Public Works should install street safety elements, such as protected bike lanes, that could have saved the life of Hendickson, and others who are dying in greater numbers this year.

Bike advocates, friends and colleagues said Hendrickson will be remembered as a fun, outgoing man who went out of his way to make people happy. He also gave himself a unique nickname.

Hendrickson sent this self portrait to Brad Evans in 2016 with the subject line, "Not dead yet."
Hendrickson sent this self portrait to Brad Evans in 2016 with the subject line, “Not dead yet.”

“When I met him, he introduced himself as Crazy Uncle Scott,” said Todd. “He was as nice a guy as you can get.”

Elizabeth Toktay was his roommate and a coworker at Comedy Works, where he helped customers plan birthday parties. She highlighted how Hendrickson exuded lively enthusiasm and concern for others. 

“He came in every day, full of energy and positivity,” she said. “His presence lifted our spirits.” 

He wanted to share his love of bicycles with his grandson, who is learning to ride a bike, said Toktay.

“To share that with his grandson, he was just so thrilled,” she said. Hendrickson died Saturday. “He was supposed to start teaching his grandson on Monday.” 

The Denver Cruiser Ride on July 31 will be dedicated to Hendrickson. 

Streetsblog will follow this story with new information as it becomes available. 

Note: Streetsblog uses the term “reckless” for drivers who kill people. Drivers are responsible to exercise care and keep their vehicles under control at all times. Studies show virtually all crashes are avoidable if drivers are paying attention and driving slowly.

Correction: This story has been corrected to reflect the directions the parties were traveling, which had been transposed in an earlier version.

Hendrickson on his pedicab. Image: WalkDenver
Hendrickson on his pedicab. Image: WalkDenver

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  • TakeFive

    One thing that piqued my curiosity is that your Google view shows no stop signs anywhere while if I pull up a street view from Sep 2017 it clearly shows stop signs on Bayaud at that intersection.

    In any case, none of us are perfect and all of us are capable of being distracted. It’s wonderful that the Denver Cruiser Ride will honor and celebrate Hendrickson’s life.

    • JZ71

      The stuff stored on the corner also limits visibility . . .

      • Stephen Simac

        The cyclist may have stopped or done a rolling stop, but those objects (not sure what they are) would have blocked his view in that direction as well as the driver’s of approaching cross traffic. If the driver was speeding, or even driving the speed limit if it’s 45 mph, there would have been little time for either to react, or register each other. While it may not be a traffic violation to not slow down when vision is obstructed, pedestrians or cyclists are ahead,etc… it is sensible defensive driving, which my dad taught me to practice, and I’ve tried to teach my daughter. Seems to be a lost skill for most drivers.

        • TakeFive

          Bayaud and Tejon are two-lane roads with mostly industrial on the north side of Bayaud and mostly residential and a nice park on the south side. The speed limit was 25 mph.

        • ShatteredGlass00

          The one with the stop sign (in this case the cyclist) has the duty not only to stop, but also to yield to any cross traffic, and to meter their speed accordingly if sight lines are obscured.

          • TM

            And a driver has the duty to not run over a person that’s right in front of them no matter what the damn sign says.

          • Jo Frey

            TM, where did you find your amazing car which can stop on a dime? Because a person RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOUR VEHICLE is LESS than 2-3 feet in front of your vehicle, and the HEAVIER the vehicle, the LONGER it takes for it to be able to stop, no matter HOW FAST it’s going. Rule of thumb on the road is, the vehicle with the most lug nuts (because the heavier the vehicle, the more lug nuts they need to hold the wheels onto that vehicle) wins.

            I live in an area where pedestrians and bicyclists are all too frequently struck because they dart out into traffic without looking or even being at a street corner where they should be expected to cross. 31 years ago, I myself was the bicyclist hit by a car, costing me two front teeth, a broken thumb, and a $75 ticket for riding against traffic. I have seen both sides of the situation.

            I am NOT saying the van driver is innocent, nor am I implying that the bike rider was at fault. What I AM saying is that you should do your research before making impossible statements.

            Peace.

          • TM

            Drive slower, idiot.

          • TM

            How much research should I do? Graduate degrees and years of working in the field? Done.

          • TM

            Rule of thumb is, the driver of the vehicle with the most lug nuts has the most responsibility to operate in a way that doesn’t put other people in danger. Also, the smallest genitalia.

          • TM

            I live in an area where people on foot or on bikes are frequently killed because of the ass-backward attitude by drivers that “the vehicle with the most lug nuts wins.” It’s pure bullying and anyone that engages in it shouldn’t be allowed to have a driver’s license.

          • TM

            If you are 2-3 feet away from a person YOU FUCKED UP ALREADY.

          • TM

            No peace without justice.

  • ahoppi

    thank you for the article and focus on bicycle safety – Scott was a dear friend for many years and will be sadly missed by his friends and family

  • DaftPunkd

    “protected bike lanes, that could have saved the life of Hendickson”

    I’m not convinced, never been a fan. They hide you from the rest of traffic, and when you appear at the intersection, to drivers, it’s as if from nowhere.

  • fxgn

    Why does this story refer to the driver as reckless when they were not charged with a crime? According to the diagram the cyclist had a stop sign travelling eastbound on Bayaud Ave. Did the cyclist get hit after stopping and then continuing into the intersection? Why does it state the bike lane ends at Bayaud when it wraps around north-bound on Tejon? Why is an image of “stop bars” show with a caption “where drivers should stop” if there is no stop sign on Tejon?

    • TM

      Drivers frequently get away with killing people without being charged with anything. One major reason, they are the only ones alive to tell what happened.
      Why do you have so many questions aimed at blaming a man for his own death? Have you no decency? Go away.

      • TC

        TM, fxgn is not absolving the driver, nor blaming the victim. fxgn is asking pertinent questions regarding root cause of the accident – which is the way to lead to safer streets. You appear fine with condemning an innocent driver to pay for the sins of guilty drivers who avoided indictment? I’m struggling to find decency in that.

        • David Day

          Almost ALL drivers avoid indictment, regardless of guilt. How can a person who just killed a man with a 4000 pound machine be innocent? I find it hard to believe that there’s no way he could have avoided fatally killing this bicyclist, and I find it highly doubtful that a very experienced rider would make a stupid mistake like running a stop sign.

        • TM

          A driver killed a man, the driver is not innocent. Period.

    • Vooch

      Driver is guilty of killing a innocent person. The onus is always on the operator of a hulking death machine

      full stop.

      • TakeFive

        full stop – is what the Stop Signs called for on Bayaud Ave.

        • Vooch

          Seems the driver didn’t take proper care.

          • ShatteredGlass00

            The cyclist was traveling westbound on Bayaud and had the stop sign. There was no stop sign for the motorist on Tejon.

          • TM

            When a person is in front of you you stop. Don’t need a sign, just respect for human life.

          • Vooch

            driver was driving too fast for the conditions and didn’t look at his surroundings.

            He shouldn’t be charged with homicide, merely manslaughter

  • Seymour Butz

    RIP, another death by car where the driver isn’t even charged with anything

    • Streetsblog Denver

      The police have not finished their investigation.

      • ShatteredGlass00

        They will not hold a driver responsible for hitting someone who ran a stop sign. Any judge or jury would conclude not guilty in minutes. It would be a waste of time to charge him.

        • TM

          You have no evidence that he ran a stop sign. None.
          Even if he did that does not justify killing him. A driver still has a responsibility to not kill people. Your comments are a waste of time. Go away.

  • Wranger

    Protected bike lanes are great when they’re done well and keep drivers from parking their stupid cars in them (including the police, public works, etc.). However, I do have to say that this section of Bayaud has always had extremely low traffic whenever I have ridden there, so I wouldn’t think that a PBL would be justified there. Tejon, however, has quite a lot of through traffic in this area and there isn’t a stop sign for a very very long stretch of the road, so drivers can very easily drive well over the speed limit. I avoid riding this section of Tejon because that striped bike lane doesn’t make me feel safe. A PBL would be more justified there, I would think.

    I would love to know how fast this driver was going and whether they were distracted by their phone or something else but we rarely get this sort of information because all they have to do is say “I didn’t see him” and they get off scott-free.

  • oceanstater

    Sad. The driver not charged is a familiar story in Rhode Island too, unless they were drunk, or tried a hit and run, they are never charged here, even when a pedestrian is killed in a crosswalk, at most they face a $85 fine for failure to yield. Our law seems to require proof they did it deliberately to face any other consequence. I think this reflects society’s decision to prioritize motorist speed and convenience above other factors and we regard those that walk or bike as losers.

    • TakeFive

      “We don’t really know the details other than he was riding his bike and a car hit him or a he hit a car,” said Henrickson’s friend Brad Evans. “We don’t even know those details yet.”

      So we don’t even know who hit who? Unfortunately, the politics of the day requires shooting from the hip and let somebody else ask questions later.

    • Chris Terry

      Wouldn’t help a thing to charge the driver. The road is also to blame. So is Denver for not providing a safer riding space. I mean sure, the driver may be partially at fault but I wouldnt want to be that person. What a nightmare as is. I would be traumatized for life with PSD.

      • oceanstater

        don’t agree. You sound like a responsible person who would be bothered to accidently hurt someone but some others don’t care. Real penalties will provide some sense of justice to the family and friends of the victim of careless drivers (and maybe for the bike community too) and possibly provide a deterrent for some to take more care. It would also stress the importance of looking out for vulnerable users in driver education.

  • Ryan

    The fact that he was going to teach his grandson to bike and didn’t get a chance to simply breaks my heart. I’ve been ON IT with my city about expanding bike lanes and making more lighted crosswalks and finally they are listening and making improvements. It’s really upsetting that people are still killed in this day and age with so much tech. To be honest it makes me want to want to bike at all now, especially in high-traffic areas but for all those who have died, I will bike for them and encourage more to join so cars and trucks and the rest can learn to slow the hell down.

  • EcoAdvocate

    Will any transportation engineers involved with designing and keeping the current design of this intersection be held liable?

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