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Austin is full of opportunities to have fun in the water... Be Safe!

Summer Water Safety

Austin is full of opportunities to have fun in the water... Be Safe!If you’re like us, you’re looking forward to a fun summer filled with fun, whether it’s boating on Lake Travis, tubing the Comal, riding your motorcycle, visiting friends and family, or just relaxing at home. However, in the midst of all these fun activities, it’s important to keep in mind your own safety and the safety of those around you.

Summer water safety will be especially important this year. The weather will be nice, and the lakes and rivers are very full from all of that rain we’ve experienced recently. Many people will want to enjoy the water, but accidents can happen quickly. Here are a few important safety tips to remember if you’re out on the water this summer:

  • Never swim alone.
  • Don’t swim or operate a motor vehicle if you’ve been drinking. Remember, driving a boat while drinking is still drunk driving.
  • Always wear a life vest.
  • Make sure that you know how to swim and that everyone with you knows how to swim.
  • Learn CPR.
  • Stay aware of the weather-it can change rapidly!
  • Be sure to wear sunscreen.
  • Use common sense! Stay alert at all times, observe buoys and other boundaries, operate your boat at a safe speed, and be respectful of those around you.

We hope you and your loved ones have a happy, fun, and safe summer However, if you are involved in an accident, be sure to contact Shefman Law.

Get ready for the Republic of Texas Motorcycle Rally

527307768_d449b94a4d_b-683x1024We here at CyclistLaw are really excited about the Republic of Texas Biker Rally, which is coming to Austin this weekend (June 11-14, 2015). With all of the negativity that has surrounded biking recently, we look forward to stepping out and showing the world what it truly means to be a biker on the road these days. Look for us, we will be handing out plenty of awesome swag!

This is the largest ticketed motorcycle rally in the USA, where thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts can come together to celebrate bikes, biking, music, nightlife, and Texas. There will be custom bike builders, contests, games, and plenty of vendors, as well as many special musical guests.
Performers this year include Creedence Clearwater Revisited, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Asleep at the Wheel, Lukas Nelson, Los Lonely Boys, Rich Robinson of the Black Crowes, the Wagoneers, and many more.

This will be the 20th Anniversary of the Rally festival. It will be held at the Travis County Expo Center, rain or shine. You can buy tickets in advance here, with regular and VIP options available. You must be 18 to enter the rally grounds.

There will also be a parade and downtown party on June 12, with 50 blocks of downtown Austin closed off for this special event. This will be a truly “bikers only parking” event that is not to be missed. You can enjoy the parade, and then afterwards party right in view of the capitol!

Rally officials have been working closely with the Austin Police Department and the Travis County Sheriff’s Department to help ensure that everyone who attends the rally will have a fun and safe experience. However, if you do get injured, be sure to contact us! We are here to help! Most importantly, be safe and have fun!

Photo: Alex Thomson via Flickr.

Bike To Work Day is May 15, 2015!

bike-to-work-dayJoin us this Friday, May 15, 2015, for Bike to Work Day. Cyclist Law will be at Ozone Bike Dept. handing out breakfast tacos and swag.

Come fill your belly and say hi, we love meeting other cyclists!

Also, make sure to check out our video on Shefman Law for some safety tips before heading out tomorrow morning.

In addition, there will be other morning “fueling stations” along popular Austin routes from 7:00-9:30 a.m. (pop across the street after you get a taco for a doughnut at Wheatsville). For the first time ever, you can pick up a “Bicycle Passport” at any of these fueling stations to have stamped at every station you visit. Each stamp qualifies you for an entry into a door prize drawing featuring great prizes. Door prize donors include B-Cycle, Chameleon Cold Brew, Spinlister, Café Ruckus, and many more. You can also use the passport for other freebies including Real Ale beer at the first-ever Bike Home From Work Day Party from 5:00-7:00 p.m. at Cheer Up Charlies.

You can find a complete list of fueling stations here. Can’t bike to work? Don’t worry! You can still participate by using your bike when you go out to run errands, for meals, or for entertainment this Friday.

The goal of Bike To Work Day is to reward current bicycle commuters for their dedication to decreasing air and traffic pollution as well as to attract new bicycle commuters. Studies show that bicycle commuting improves health. It also helps employees arrive at work more alert and ready to start the day. So grab your bike and stop by as many fueling stations as you can this Friday.

More Detailed Police Reports for Bicycle Crashes Could Improve Safety for All

In the blog post below, we mentioned the case of Frankie Frankovis and her fight to get a police report after she was involved in a collision with a jaywalker. We are happy to report that the loophole in Austin law that required a collision to involve a motor vehicle before it could properly be considered a “crash” has now been closed.

As of tomorrow, May 1, 2015, crashes between people on bikes and non-motor vehicles have been reclassified and will now require a police report. Specifically, this includes collisions involving people on bikes that occur in a public place when at least one person sustains an injury and “the incident occurred as a result of a potential criminal act, violation of the Transportation Code, violation of a City Ordinance, or the actions of another party.”

Find out more at Austin On A Bike & Austin Chronicle.

We are excited about this change and hope Austin as well as other cities will continue to take measures to provide for more accurate reporting when accidents occur.

________________________________

Deformation of bicycle after accident on the streetWhen you’re involved in a crash, the police are usually called. As part of their duties, they write a police report detailing exactly what happened during the crash. This police report is vital for future insurance claims and potential lawsuits. It is equally important that responding officers do an Actual investigation of the site of the crash and document those findings so that at a later time evidence is preserved as to time, speed, distance and other objective data necessary for both criminal and civil cases.

all too often when a crash involves a bicycle, the police report lacks vital details. Studies show that most current crash reports involving bicycles are handwritten or drawn by the police officer, and most police departments don’t have specific diagrams or codes to use when a person on a bicycle is involved. Many times these drawings are not even detailed enough to show which side of a bike was hit. The framework that applies when two cars crash is simply not accurate enough to properly detail an accident when a bicycle is involved in the crash.

Sadly, sometimes police policies and/or state legislation is also simply not up-to-date on this matter, such as was recently the case in Austin when Frankie Frankovis had to fight to even get a police report when she was involved in a collision with a jaywalker. This was because the police did not consider it a “crash” since it involved a person on a bike and a person walking or running, rather than a person on a bike and a motor vehicle.

Modern technology can help make crash reporting by police officers easier and more detailed than has ever been possible in the past. For example, officers could use electronic tablets and categorize crashes with codes specific to people riding bicycles. Using this type of crash reporting makes it much easier to ascertain important details after the fact that might otherwise be lost, such as whether the person on the bike was riding within a bike lane, or sharrow lane or if the bike lane was clear of debris, or if cars were parked in the lane when the person on the bike was hit..

If all cities and states would call on the police to improve the reporting process, not only would the individuals involved in the crash be helped, but the information could also be put into a national database to help study bicycle crashes. This information could be invaluable when devising future safety measures and legislation by helping people to better understand how and why most of these types of accidents occur.

On a more local level, this type of detailed information could help cities note how and why crashes are happening and if they are happening more often at specific sites. All of the information gathered can be used toward the important goal of improving safety for everyone-people on bikes, people walking, people in cars, and other motor vehicles.

We will rant in our next blog about the importance of the vulnerable road user ordinance and statutes that aim to protect people on bikes, on foot, mobility impaired, construction workers, people on horseback and other vulnerable road users. The law as written is violated by necessity everyday when bike lanes are placed next to bus lanes without proper distances for the bus operator or truck to provide the required space to vulnerable road users, and how we imagine these laws can be improved. If you have your own ideas, please comment below or send them to us at lenore@cyclistlaw.com.

Full Use of Lane for Cyclists in Texas

Cyclists are considered vehicles and are allowed full use of a traffic lane. Riding to the far right where there is inadequate room for a vehicle or where debris or other dangerous conditions exist is not necessary. Cyclists are more likely to be seen in the center of a lane. Also, cyclists using the full lane are less likely to be hit when a larger vehicle attempts to pass on the left. Many crashes between autos, trucks, and cyclists occur when the motor vehicle attempts to pass the cyclist and clips the cyclist with a bumper or mirror. If there is no bike lane and it is perceived to be too dangerous to ride in the far right of the lane, you can use the full lane. See Texas Transportation Code Section 551.103 which states:

Sec. 551.103. OPERATION ON ROADWAY. (a) Except as provided by Subsection (b), a person operating a bicycle on a roadway who is moving slower than the other traffic on the roadway shall ride as near as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway, unless:

(1) the person is passing another vehicle moving in the same direction;

(2) the person is preparing to turn left at an intersection or onto a private road or driveway;

(3) a condition on or of the roadway, including a fixed or moving object, parked or moving vehicle, pedestrian, animal, or surface hazard prevents the person from safely riding next to the right curb or edge of the roadway; or

(4) the person is operating a bicycle in an outside lane that is:

(A) less than 14 feet in width and does not have a designated bicycle lane adjacent to that lane; or

(B) too narrow for a bicycle and a motor vehicle to safely travel side by side.

(b) A person operating a bicycle on a one-way roadway with two or more marked traffic lanes may ride as near as practicable to the left curb or edge of the roadway.

(c) Persons operating bicycles on a roadway may ride two abreast. Persons riding two abreast on a laned roadway shall ride in a single lane. Persons riding two abreast may not impede the normal and reasonable flow of traffic on the roadway. Persons may not ride more than two abreast unless they are riding on a part of a roadway set aside for the exclusive operation of bicycles.

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