Shefman Law – Austin Personal Injury, Bicycling and Motorcycle Accident Attorney

Tag Archive: Bicycle safety

  1. SXSW on Two Wheels – Quick Tips for Bikes

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    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.

  2. 3 Key Ways for Motorcyclists and Bicyclists to Avoid Injury

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    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:  and or for bicycle safety and laws:

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

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    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.

  4. Bicycles Blending in the Shade of Night

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    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.

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

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    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.

  6. To Ride With or Without a Helmet, That is The Question

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    Helmets are hot. We mean sexy. Sexy to us because it means you have a brain you want to protect. Brains are sexy. Helmets are also hot as in they can make us feel heat on our heads on an already blisteringly hot day. Therein lies the question, take it off, or keep it on?

    We are all about personal freedoms and we believe this choice is certainly up to you. We want you to keep your brains and that sexy head of yours and many argue that helmets are more dangerous because we are not seen by other vehicles as “as vulnerable” when riding and cars and trucks are less cautious. Some argue that helmets make no guarantees of safe landings in crashes. There may be truth to all these arguments and we are not trying to change or shape anyone’s opinion and we respect everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Truth is, if you are hit hard enough, no helmet will protect you. True. Fair enough. But, ….take a look at this information from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS). They have no horse in any race to increase insurance costs for riders that ride without helmets. They have no horse in the race of whether you purchase a DOT certified helmet or not. The AANS is not the government. The AANS is made up of surgeons who will treat you after your head has suffered a blow.

    Shefman Law represents cyclists and bikers in Austin, Texas following traumatic brain injuries (TBI). We see the afterglow of that glorious ride without a helmet. Thankfully they don’t all end in trauma. Thankfully most rides are just that, a glorious ride. If your ride goes bad we will be there for you, with or without a helmet, no matter your choice. We just want to share some of this information.

    In 2009, The American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) utilizing U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) data tracking specific instances through tracking data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) cycling related head injuries contributing to the highest number of estimated head injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms in 2009.
    Cycling accounted for 85,389 head injuries in adults and in head-injury categories among children ages 14 and younger cycling accounted for 40,272 head injuries.

    “A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is defined as a blow or jolt to the head, or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. TBI can result when the head suddenly and violently hits an object, or when an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue. Symptoms of a TBI can be mild, moderate or severe, depending on the extent of damage to the brain. Mild cases may result in a brief change in mental state or consciousness, while severe cases may result in extended periods of unconsciousness, coma or even death.” (AANS)

    According to the AANS every year, more than 500,000 people visit emergency rooms in the United States with bicycle-related injuries. Of those, nearly 85,000 were head injuries in 2009. There are about 600 deaths a year, with two-thirds being attributed to TBI. It is estimated that up to 85 percent of head injuries can be prevented through proper usage of properly fitting helmets.

    Universal use of bicycle helmets by children ages 4 to 15 could prevent 45,000 head injuries.

    So, these are real numbers. Real heads hurt. Some of them were tiny heads. That makes our head hurt. We want you to be safe, stay sexy, and if you can tolerate it, to wear a helmet. The law in Texas does not require you to but it does require we protect our little ones heads. So, let’s make sure those helmets fit properly and give them the chance to grow up and choose the answer to the question, “To Ride With or Without a Helmet?” on their own.

  7. You Have Been In a Bike Crash in Austin. Now What?

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    Whether you have been in a bike crash in Austin or a motorcycle crash in Austin these are key things to know to preserve your rights.

    1. Get the help you need. At the crash site, make sure 911 is called and the police respond. Austin is lucky to have a positive police chief who agrees cyclists and bikers have a right to share the road. Make sure police respond. Show the police the respect they deserve and help them help you.
    2. Get the medical attention you need. Take that ambulance to the hospital and get evaluated. When hit by a ton or more of car or truck you often have so much adrenaline running through your system you have no idea the extent of your injuries.
    3. Get witness and as much information at the crash site as possible. Use our phone app (cyclistlaw crash app) or just turn on your phone video camera if you have one and start recording everything from the vehicles involved, the witnesses, their information, the insurance information of the person who hit you, record the license plate, make, model of the vehicle, the street signs, any road conditions that may be relevant, everything…point and shoot!
    4. Do not speak to any insurance company representatives until you have spoken to a bike crash attorney from cyclistlaw and/or motorcycle crash attorney.
    5. Keep the clothing you were wearing at the time of the crash including your helmet or the jacket they cut off of you in the ER. This is evidence.
    6. Keep a journal of the things you are having difficulty with. If you were head injured but are functioning write down the troubles you are experiencing.
    7. Call and speak to an attorney who can help you.

  8. Kirk Watson’s Bill SB 275 just passed the Senate. Onward through the House

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    For those of you not following this legislative session, SB 275 just passed through the Senate unanimously. The measure was authored by Austin Democratic Sen. Kirk Watson.

    Senate Bill 275 enhances prior punishments and ups the anti. If a driver flees the scene of a crash s/he will face up to 20 years in prison, a $10,000 fine in what is charged as a second degree felony.

    The case where a Capitol Hill aide, Nestande, hit, and fled the scene leaving Courtney Griffin in the road without medical assistance where she ultimately died has raised great attention from lawmakers such that this pass flew through the Senate. Now, onward to the House.

    KVUE wrote this article
    and the Statesman’s coverage of the same is here

  9. Cycle Tracks in Austin

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    Any cyclist, at some point, has heard: “Get out of the road!!” or, more curiously: “Pay taxes!!” What’s with all the hostility? Why wouldn’t cyclists ride on the road? (Furthermore, why does riding a bike imply that cyclists don’t pay taxes???) After all, bikes are legally defined as moving vehicles (not to be confused with motor vehicles), so cyclists are bound to a whole set of laws and city codes dictating where and how to ride bicycles.
    This tension between motorists and cyclists is growing behind the vast urban expansion of Central Texas, putting more vulnerable road users at daily risk. Cycling accidents accounted for 2.8% of all road collisions in 2011, up 0.5% from 2010. Unfortunately, the number of injurious accidents rose as well. The City of Austin has answered to this rising danger by implementing “cycle tracks.”
    Cycle tracks are two-way buffered paths separated from the road by pylon barriers. Their purpose is to allow cyclists a safe opportunity for movement along popular traffic corridors. Austin houses three cycle tracks beside common use roads- Bluebonnet Drive from Meldridge to South Lamar, Rio Grande near UT, and parts of the Lance Armstrong Bikeway- with more planned for the future. The city anticipates by 2020 5% of all commuters will be cyclists; making cycle tracks and other vulnerable road user opportunities a critical piece of Austin’s ever-changing infrastructure.
    This type of infrastructure is backed by Austin’s adoption of Complete Streets policy. This policy holds “the simple and basic concept that streets and roadways should be designed and operated to be safe and accessible for all transportation users whether they are pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, or vehicular motorists.” Complete Streets also calls for early consideration of cyclists and pedestrians when planning new developments and reconstruction to roads. The impact of Complete Streets has proven so successful that Texas Legislature is considering adopting it as statewide policy.

    To keep roads safe and sidewalks free to pedestrians, lawmakers passed a 3-foot rule in late 2009, requiring all motorists to give at least 3 feet of space between vehicles and cyclists. This law isn’t just pointed to drivers; cyclists have a responsibility in taking advantage of safe causeway solutions, such as bike paths, and for following traffic laws. While this law can be difficult to enforce, it is designed to protect all road users.

    Some argue that cycle tracks and the difficulty of enforcing the 3-Foot Rule sends a poor message to motorists—cyclists don’t belong on the road. Because cycle tracks place a physical barrier between driving and riding space, critics claim drivers pay less attention to cyclists entering intersections or merging where the path ends. More strongly, though, cycle tracks may prove to drivers that cyclists belong on a separate causeway. The 3-Foot Rule could evoke similar emotions since drivers feel cyclists should exclusively use bike paths when available or ensure THEY are operating 3 feet from the vehicle, not the other way around.

    These concerns are certainly a consideration for Central Texas as the area continues booming. To see the proposed changes through 2020, view the Austin Bicycle Plan.

    How do you feel about cycle tracks? Are they important stepping stones to an urban infrastructure or an unfair message to the purpose of cyclists as road users?