Two years after he was struck and killed by an alleged drunk driver, Tito Bradshaw’s ghost bike still hangs from an old utility pole in an empty lot on San Antonio’s near East Side. On Saturday, several children played with memorial balloons while Bradshaw’s friends and family – some who traveled from out of state – greeted each other with fist bumps and reconnected in a way they couldn’t during the first anniversary of his death.
Last year, the coronavirus pandemic prevented them from gathering on April 1, the day Bradshaw, 35, was killed in 2019.
“Heavenly Father, thank you for allowing us to come out and gather in Tito’s name,” said Harry Bradshaw, the beloved local cyclist’s father. Friends and family joined hands in a circle around the ghost bike and bowed their heads in prayer.
“We wish he would be here rather than celebrating this way,” Harry Bradshaw said. “But this is a celebration of life – not a celebration of hatred or anything else – it’s a celebration of life. He lived, he loved to live, he loved to travel. He loved the city of San Antonio.”
At the count of three, the circle of roughly 25 people, released the balloons into the sky, yelling “Tito forever!”
Valentino, Tito Bradshaw’s energetic 7-year-old son, beamed with pride during the event. “Did you know that I’m Tito’s son?” he asked several attendees.
Bradshaw, a well-known cycling advocate, was co-owner of Bottom Bracket Social Club, a bar and bike shop that closed in 2018, and worked at several local restaurants and bars.
Harley Smith, a business partner and one of Bradshaw’s best friends, described him as “a mutual friend of everybody.”
“He was real tenacious, he was very entrepreneurial, very driven,” said another friend and partner, Clayton Baines. “We would run our bar all day – it was just us three with no employees – we would run it from 5 p.m. to 3 [a.m.], he would pick up his son, and be up at 7 a.m. to open up our bicycle shop. And this was daily.”
Bradshaw was riding his bike on the 1900 block of East Houston Street when a car driven by Linda Collier Mason struck him from behind, according to San Antonio Police Department reports. Mason, 67, was indicted on a charge of intoxication manslaughter in April 2019. She is currently out on bail, awaiting trial scheduled for May 3.
At the first memorial soon after Bradshaw’s death, hundreds of people showed up to honor him, his father noted. “It hurts us to to be here. But at the same time, we don’t want Tito to be forgotten. Because we want justice for Tito.”
Several signs brought to the site of his death read “2 years 2 long.”
“This still burns my heart because we have no closure,” said the cyclist’s mother, Bernice Bradshaw. “We have to have closure before we can heal and before we can move forward.”
Harry Bradshaw understands that the pandemic has slowed the court system, but hopes a resolution will soon come. He said he has monthly conversations with the Bexar County District Attorney’s office to keep up to speed with the case.
The University of Texas at San Antonio has dedicated a bike trail and repair shop in Tito Bradshaw’s honor and the Live to Ride fund was established through the San Antonio Area Foundation to raise money for bike safety awareness and to improve bike infrastructure throughout the city.
Those fundraising efforts, too, have been stifled by the pandemic, said Jeff Moore, a Live to Ride’s committee member who founded the popular SATX Social Ride.
“It put a damper on it,” Moore said. “We’re meeting this month to talk about some ideas on what to spend a little bit of money on.”
The fund has roughly $30,000 in it so far. Moore hopes that Bradshaw’s memorial coupled with the uptick in cycling during the pandemic will build momentum behind creating improved and connected bike infrastructure across San Antonio.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg, who attended the ceremony, acknowledged that more needs to be done in the way of bicycle safety.
“In order for this city to properly remember Tito, we have to make sure that we build it a different way so that people don’t die riding bicycles in our community,” Nirenberg said.
There has been little progress made in the last two years, but the upcoming 2022 bond, which will fund dozens of major infrastructure projects, is the City’s opportunity to make meaningful strides, he said.
“I’ve asked the City to take a step back so that we’re no longer trying to piecemeal our way to a safe bicycle plan – [so] that we actually have a strategy and we’re willing to put our resources behind it. … I am going to hold us accountable to achieving what we have talked about for decades at this point.”
Harry Bradshaw hopes the City will find a permanent spot to memorialize his son and other cyclists who have lost their lives on local roadways. The vacant commercial lot at 1938 E. Houston St., where the ghost bike hangs, is currently for sale.
The memorial doesn’t have to be there, Harry Bradshaw said. “Wherever they would give us a place to put a permanent memorial … we would be grateful.”