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SXSW on Two Wheels – Quick Tips for Bikes

It’s that South-by time of year again in Austin and with the great music, speakers and all of the parties comes gridlock and street closures making two-wheeled transportation your best option for quickly navigating your way to the most events. Here’s a few quick pointers to make cycling around the city during a festival easier.

1) If you don’t have a bike, there’s always the new, shiny B-cycles rentable at multiple stations downtown. There’s also a variety of rental options (check out AustinPost’s list here) and SXSW badge holders have access to Tern folders.

2) Accessorize. Lights and lock are required, helmet is a good idea and a bell can be useful for alerting the sea of pedestrians and cars that come with downtown during SX.

3) Keep an eye out for those aforementioned cars and pedestrians, they’re not always looking for you.

4) Stay off the sidewalks. We know, its tempting to take off past the gridlock, but sidewalks can be more dangerous than the bike lanes.

5) Signal, signal and yield. People are everywhere downtown, let them know what you’re doing by signaling and yield to the pedestrians.

6) Try to stick to bike-friendly routes. North to south has Nueces, Speedway through the Capital to Congress and San Jacinto. Keeping a few blocks south of 6th to travel east/west is usually slightly less crowded and there’s an easy bike-path crossing under I-35 by the Convention Center on 4th.

7) Lock up every time you leave your bike. There are a lot more bike racks downtown than in previous years – use them. Watch for no bike parking signs because sometimes they’ll remove your bike.

8) Go slow. No matter your wheels, it’s slow going but biking is still faster than walking or driving. The faster you go the harder it is to dodge the power partier on their cell phone stepping directly in your path.

9) Don’t ride drunk. You CAN still get a ticket for impairment on a bicycle. Plus it’s just not a good idea. Play it safe and take a pedicab instead.

10) Wanna get downtown and walk? Motorcycle parking is always free downtown, if you can find a space and CapMetro has several stops along key SX zones.

Have fun, ride safe and remember, CyclistLaw – we’ve got your back.

3 Key Ways for Motorcyclists and Bicyclists to Avoid Injury

As personal injury attorneys for bikers and cyclists it is our goal to reduce the number of injuries suffered by our clients so everyone can enjoy what they love most, riding. Here are three tips to hopefully help avoid injuries caused by negligent drivers.

When you are riding behind a car in traffic, make sure you have an “out” if the car stops suddenly. Ride to the side and closest to the shoulder or a clear path out of any sudden movements by the motorists ahead.

When you are approaching an intersection and cars or trucks are turning right, move to the left of the bumper of the vehicles ahead of you and do not move to the right, maintain a safe distance because motorists may not notice you.

Many motorcycle and bicycle collisions could be avoided if other motorists simply saw the cyclist prior to the collision. Watch for drivers making a left hand turn across your path. Left hand turns in violation of a motorcyclists right of way are a leading cause of injury to motorcyclists.

If you have questions, don’t hesitate to call Shefman Law or visit our website for more tips on motorcycle safety: http://www.cyclistlaw.com/motorcycle-accidents/motorcycle-safety/  and or for bicycle safety and laws:http://www.cyclistlaw.com/bicycle-accidents/austin-bicycle-law/

“The Moth Effect” Bikes and Lights, Rules to Ride By

Marc Green is a Human Factors and Visuals Expert. He wrote a very interesting article on THE MOTH EFFECT. So, What is the Moth Effect? The study is worth reading. The summary is captured at the top, indicating despite the Moth Effect riders should employ lights, as many as possible, and preferrably flashing. The article discusses drivers leaving the road and being directed at the subject of their focus fixation.

The author writes, “The likely explanation for the moth effect is imprecision in knowing where the eyes are pointed. In order to perceive a stable world, the brain is constantly monitoring the direction of gaze. It is one of those critical mental operations necessary for survival that operates outside of awareness. If the brain did not know where the eyes were pointed, for example, the world would jump every time we made an eye movement.”

Take a few minutes to read the article. The information is invauable especially for riders at this time of year when days are short and nights are long.

Bicycles Blending in the Shade of Night

It has been one full year since “Chops” Ramirez was hit in early October 2012, when Brian Lindquist was run over from behind and left for dead by the deeply drugged hit and run driver, and where Cody Johnson lost his life also, run over from behind by a drunk driver. None of these cyclists share any responsibility for their fate. They each shared at least four things in common. All three men, rode a bike, in the fall, in Austin, Texas. What does this have to do with riding at night? Only highlights the fact that, at this time of year, with cooler temps, and earlier night fall, there are a few more things riders should consider when blasting out into the great big open on their favorite two wheels.

Every rider out there knows that with cooler days and nights, riding is pure joy after excruciatingly long hot summer days. If you are a new rider, know someone just starting out and picking up their first bike at any of our amazing 40 bike shops here in town, or new and joining your organized ride, lend a hand or a bit of knowledge where you know it might be needed.
I know nobody wants to sound like a killjoy and or take the initial “whee” out of those first rides for any enthusiastic newbie rider. If you see someone doing something though and you know it could get them killed or harmed, just take a sec and with whatever tact you have, share with that rider a better, safer way.

Using reflective tape on clothes, attaching reflective stickers to your bike where it is visible from all directions, your helmet, glasses arms (thank you Andrew McCalla for this little gem) and even water bottles can increase your visibility.
If you see a rider without lights and dusk is approaching, make sure you share your knowledge about how important it is to be seen and if you have a spare light, help the rider in need get home and pick it up from them later. If not, take the lead and keep them on the inside of the bike lane so they remain visible with you until you get to the shop to buy a set of front and rear high lumens lights- or, until you are all safely at the destination. We mention high lumens lights because it is super important you not only have a light that will allow you to be seen, it is equally important that your light show you where potential road hazards are ahead of you.

Now that night is falling earlier, anyone staying or “caught” late at work could end up in the dark on the way home. Please stay safe, think ahead, and brighten up that ride. No need to be any more vulnerable of a vulnerable road user.

Austin’s Vulnerable Road User Law and How It Protects Motorcyclists, Bicyclists, Pedestrians, Scooters and Horseback Riders

Austin has adopted the three foot passing rule as between autos and bikes and a six foot passing rule as between trucks and bikes. The Austin law defines those protected as “vulnerable road users” as follows:

“(1) a pedestrian, including a runner, physically disabled person, child, skater,
highway construction and maintenance worker, tow truck operator, utility worker, other
worker with legitimate business in or near the road or right-of-way, or stranded motorist
or passenger;
(2) a person on horseback;
(3) a person operating equipment other than a motor vehicle, including, but
not limited to, a bicycle, hand cycle, horse-driven conveyance, or unprotected farm
equipment; or
(4) a person operating a motorcycle, moped, motor-driven cycle, or motor assisted scooter.”

The law also states as follows:

“(b) An operator of a motor vehicle passing a vulnerable road user operating on a
highway or street shall:
(1) vacate the lane in which the vulnerable road user is located if the highway
has two or more marked lanes running in the same direction; or
(2) pass the vulnerable road user at a safe distance.”

The law then defines safe distance as:

“(c) For the purpose of Subsection (b)(2), when road conditions allow, safe distance
is at least:
(1) three feet if the operator’s vehicle is a passenger car or light truck; or
(2) six feet if the operator’s vehicle is a truck, other than a light truck, or a
commercial motor vehicle as defined by Texas Transportation Code Section 522.003.”

The law makes provisions for vulnerable road user right-of-ways where oncoming traffic is making left hand turns:

“(d) An operator of a motor vehicle that is making a left turn at an intersection,
including an intersection with an alley or private road or driveway, shall yield the right-of-way to a vulnerable road user who is approaching from the opposite direction and is in
the intersection, or is in such proximity to the intersection as to be an immediate hazard.”

The autos and trucks that speed up to pass you, they are breaking the law. This is what the law says about this manuever:

“(e) An operator of a motor vehicle may not overtake a vulnerable road user
traveling in the same direction and subsequently make a right-hand turn in front of the
vulnerable road user unless the operator is safely clear of the vulnerable road user, taking
into account the speed at which the vulnerable road user is traveling and the braking
requirements of the motor vehicle making the right-hand turn.”

There is even an anti-harassment provision written into the law:

“(f) An operator of a motor vehicle may not maneuver the vehicle in a manner that:
(1) is intended to cause intimidation or harassment to a vulnerable road user; or
(2) threatens a vulnerable road user.”

The law places the due care responsibility on the auto or truck UNLESS the vulnerable road user is in violation of the law:

“(g) An operator of a motor vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with

anyvulnerable road user on a roadway or inan intersection of roadways.
(h) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that at the time of
the offense the vulnerable road user was acting in violation of the law.”

This information is directly quoted from § 12-1-35 VULNERABLE ROAD USERS Austin Ordinance.

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