Houston Non-Profit Takes Biking Safety into Its Own Hands

by Terry Bryant

The numbers highlight the dangers bicyclists face when they ride on Houston’s roadways. In 2017, the grim statistics show that 21 bicyclists were killed in the metro area and 639 were injured on area roads. What is causing these tragic and unacceptable deaths and injuries?

There are a number of factors to blame. Aggressive drivers who are in a hurry to get where they are going may not give bikes adequate space. Distracted drivers may not necessarily be paying attention to bicyclists, pedestrians, and others sharing the roads. Law enforcement is sometimes lax in enforcing traffic rules. Also, as is the case in many big cities, roadways often lack bike lanes and are only designed with motor vehicle traffic in mind, to the detriment of bike riders.

The bicyclists themselves can also be part of the problem. Inexperienced cyclists who don’t have access to bike lanes may not know the “rules of the road” for riding in shared lanes.

Working to Make Cycling Safer

Enter Bike Houston, a local non-profit biking advocacy group that is seeking to combat these issues to make cycling in the area safer. The group currently offers periodic classes on safely maneuvering city streets on two wheels. In 2019, it will increase the classes to once a month.

The classes use an obstacle course and road riding to teach everything from basics, such as stopping at stop signs and red lights and riding with the flow of traffic, to how to ride in a traffic lane (instructors recommend taking the entire lane if it is too narrow to share). They teach bikers to signal when changing lanes and to make eye contact with drivers to ensure that drivers see them. They cover how to react in dangerous situations, such as when seeing debris in the road, avoiding potholes, or encountering a car door swinging open. The course also advises on the importance of wearing helmets, glasses, gloves, and other safety gear.

Biking Safety is Everybody’s Business

Keeping bicyclists safe is not only the responsibility of the cyclists themselves. As a society, it is up to everybody. Although the majority of states require that car drivers give bicyclists three feet of clearance or more, Texas is not one of them. (The state does recommend that trucks and other large vehicles give bicycles six feet of clearance when passing.) We drivers must do our part by being on the lookout for bicyclists and giving them adequate room. (Bike Houston is also introducing a program that will teach drivers how to drive in a more bike-friendly way.)

Lawmakers and city planners must also do their part for safety. Increased enforcement of traffic laws and designing more bike-friendly roads and infrastructure can help reduce injuries and save lives. We share the roads, so it is up to all of us to make them safer for everybody.

If you’ve been in a biking accident and need legal assistance, contact the legal team at Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law. We are available to help you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Call us at 1 (800) 444-5000 or contact us through our online form.