May is Bicycle Safety Awareness Month

When bicyclists hit the pavement for their morning commute, safety is at top of mind. Without external protection (aside from a well-fitted helmet) bicyclists are vulnerable to the hazards of the road. An impact at any speed could become lethal. That’s why the month of May is dedicated to increasing awareness of bicyclists on roadways across the country.

How big of a problem are bicycle accidents?

In 2016, a young teenager was struck on Spicewood Springs Rd. Alexei Baureis died at the scene of the crash. His death happened at an intersection where flashing yellow lights don’t ever give a protected crossing for pedestrians or cyclists.

During SXSW 2017, a cyclist was struck by a drunk driver on E. MLK Blvd. Joshua Christopher Brosemer, 38, died following a collision that happened just before midnight.

Both of these victims have families, friends, and loved ones in their community. It’s said that a cyclist is fatally injured every 6 hours and that roughly one million children are injured annually in bicycle related accidents.

How bicyclists in Austin can help themselves stay safe year-round:

  1. Take a bicycle safety course offered by Bike Austin. Make sure you know the ins and outs of traffic laws for bicyclists and riding in groups.
  2. Wear brightly colored clothing.
  3. Use routes that are safe for bicyclists.

How motorists can help keep Austin roadways bicycle accident free:

  1. Try to understand the roadways from a bicyclist’s perspective. In Austin there’s quite a few opportunities to try cycling without taking up extra space in your garage or apartment. You can rent a bike anytime through Austin’s B-Cycle program, or get behind the handlebars during a bike safety ride with Bike Austin. You can sign up for classes at any level — beginner or mastery. A City Cycling course can show you just some of the best-practice safety maneuvers for bicyclists.
  2. Give riding to work a shot on Bike to Work Day! On May 12 bicyclists will get free breakfast, goodies, (and encouragement!) at different stations around town. It’s a great day to try out a bicycle route because with more bicyclists on the road, there’s more visibility for drivers.
  3. Check your blindspots! Before changing lanes, check for a bicyclist! Don’t weave in and out of lanes, your reaction time will be decreased and you may not be able to react fast enough.
  4. Give bicyclists the 3 foot distance required in the Safe Passing Bill. You may not know it, but in Texas motorists can face a $500 fine if they don’t give bicyclists a standard safe passing distance of about 3 feet. For commercial vehicles, the passing distance is closer to 6 ft.

Tell us why do you ride! Biking to work can be a great way to get exercise, enjoy the outdoors, or beat the traffic. If you have ever biked to work, you might have experienced any of these benefits — or others.

Questions or suggestions? Let us know in the comment section or contact the team at McMinn Law Firm at community@mcminnlaw.com.

Jason McMinn and Justin McMinn are bicycle accident attorneys in Austin, Texas.