With spring in full swing and summer on its way, a lot of Austinites are pumping up the air in their tires and looking to take their bicycles out for a spin.
But just how bike-friendly is Austin? The American League of Bicyclists awarded our city gold-level status, but many residents believe that it’s not quite so deserving of that distinction.
At The Stewart Law Firm, we have represented [thousands] of people who have been injured in bicycle and car accidents on the streets of Austin, so we know a thing or two about bicycle safety. From a high rate of hit-and-run accidents to a lack of adequate bike routes, the city has a number of obstacles to convenient and safe biking.
Read on for our rundown of just how bike-friendly a city Austin is, and how to stay safe while riding your bike around town this summer.
Bicycle accidents in Austin
Despite our town’s reputation as a bike-friendly city, hit-and-run accidents are unusually high.
In 2012, the Austin American-Statesman reported that Austin has a hit-and-run rate that is 50% higher than the national average. And in 2014, Austin ranked 159 out of 200 cities for driver safety, based on the number of accidents and the frequency at which they occur, according to the AllState America’s Best Drivers report.
The attorneys at The Stewart Law Firm are keenly aware of how frequently hit-and-run accidents can involve cyclists, and the increased risk of serious injury that cyclists face, as compared to drivers and car passengers.
After a spike in bicycle accidents in Austin in the early 2010s, the Austin Department of Transportation implemented measures to improve biking safety in the city, and as a result, the number of bicycle accidents has decreased. Still, many cyclists insist that there are improvements that could be made.
Bike routes in Austin
On a map of the city, there are thousands of streets labeled “accessible” to cyclists, but the reality reveals something less ideal.
In addition to scant lanes that often leave bicyclists overly exposed to traffic, many of these streets are so busy that most bicyclists might try to avoid them.
The city’s 2014 Bicycle Plan set out to complete the city’s increase in bicycle lanes by 2025, but as of this year, they’re not on track to complete the expansion by that deadline.
And some cyclists argue that a total overhaul of the bicycle system is needed, instead of a simple expansion.
Safety tips for biking in Austin
For bicyclists, there are some safety tips you can follow to make your rides a little less hazardous.
- Helmets and safety equipment: Of course, investing in proper safety equipment is the best thing you can do to protect yourself. The first thing that comes to mind might be helmets and other protective gear, but it should also include visibility equipment, such as reflectors, which will make it easier for others to see you.
- Ride with the flow of traffic: Riding with the flow of traffic is another safety tip bicyclists should heed. It can be intimidating, especially when some streets are structured in a way that puts motor-vehicles bumper to wheel with bicyclists, but the rules of the road offer more predictability.
- Follow traffic rules the same as drivers: Because of this predictability, bicyclists should also obey traffic rules as well. When everyone, drivers and cyclists alike, observe these rules, it leaves a lot less up to chance.
- Ride defensively: The last thing you can do to reduce the risk of accidents when biking in Austin is to ride cautiously and don’t expect drivers to yield to you. By always keeping a vigilant eye, you can help prevent accidents before they happen.
Hire a car accident attorney in Austin today
If you’ve been injured by a negligent driver while riding your bike, the attorneys at The Stewart Law Firm, PLLC, can help.
We operate on a contingency fee basis, which means you will not have to pay a fee unless we are able to secure compensation for you. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.