It’s that time again! The temperature’s rising to warm levels, the trees are green again and the days are longer. This means marathons and group rides will return to the Austin area. And with that inherently comes the possibility the number of bicycle accidents may increase in the Austin area.
While Austin has gotten much media recognition for its rich bike culture, the City Council has received much criticism. The League of American Bicyclists bumped Austin to a gold status for Bicycle Friendly ACommunities. However, many cyclist forums online speculate that is only for the sheer number of enthusiastic and active cyclists that exist in the Austin area, not necessarily in regards to safety. Though the city has undergone many improvements to bike lanes in high traffic areas (funded more by nonprofit groups than the City Council), cyclists may still find it difficult to share the road
Tips to Help Cyclists Stay Safe in the Austin Area
Firstly, if you’re new to bicycling in Austin or if you’re just getting back into the cycling scene now that the weather’s warmer, it’s important to review some basic safety information. Start slow. Try going for some short rides in or around your neighborhood before you get back onto streets with heavier traffic. Moreover, it’s important for every cyclist to remember the rules of the road. Review our city’s traffic laws on the its website as well as the listed available bike trails. It may also be a good idea to take a bicycling safety class, even if you’re not new to the biking scene.
Now that you’ve refreshed your memory on cyclist safety and are prepared to venture out into the city, remember the “Do’s and Don’ts” that will keep you safe in Austin.
- Don’t: Ride against traffic
- Do: Ride with traffic, as cyclists who are traveling against the flow of traffic are at greater risk for head-on collisions with cars
- Don’t: Simply pass between vehicles, come to a stop beside vehicles in the same lane or cut cars off
- Do: Obey all traffic signs and give cars their right-of-way when appropriate
- Don’t: Ride with headphones in
- Do: Stay alert, visible and predictable to car drivers
- Don’t: Pass cars on the right side
- Do: Pass on the left, just like a car would and use hand signals
It also helps to be familiar with Austin’s bike routes and areas where cyclists are at higher risk for bicycle accidents. Obviously highways are no-go’s. However, it’s also important to note the lack of bike lanes, larger amount of aggressive drivers and general lack of cyclist-friendly infrastructure that exists in areas just south of 183, north of Slaughter Lane and between West Mopac Boulevard and East 183. Do your homework and make sure you’re familiar with hazardous areas as well as cyclist-friendly areas.