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Bicycle Ban on Texas Toll Roads Before the TXDOT Commission Today

Today with Preston Tyree, Bicycle Sport Shop owner Hill Abel, Eileen Schaubert-cycling extraordinare, organizer, cycling instructor and all around amazing woman, Tom Wald of Bike Austin and Robin Stallings and Leslie Lucaino of Bike Texas, among others gathered at the TXDOT Commission hearing to attempt to stop an all out ban on toll roads in Texas. The proposed ban before going into effect was allowed public input and commentary and people came from as far as Dallas and Tyler.

This is from the Bike Texas Website relating to Bike Texas’ concerns about the ban and is a good summary of why allowing cyclists on shoulders of toll roads is the right thing to do: “Some of our concerns about a comprehensive bicycle ban from toll roads are: Riding a bike on the shoulder of a highway is the last place most people would want to be, but there is often no alternative accommodation; Some toll roads do not have service roads attached and may be the only access to a location; Many Texas toll roads have low traffic volumes and few conflict points, and thus are safer than their alternatives; Many Texas toll roads are in rural areas without the traffic volumes associated with urban toll roads. Such a sweeping policy from TxDOT sets a dangerous precedent for the future and does not allow any latitude in accounting for differences in regions, traffic volumes, and alternative accommodations across Texas. – See more at: http://www.biketexas.org/news/action-alerts/1526-action-alert-contact-txdot-to-prevent-a-bike-ban#sthash.12vmYx57.dpuf”

Our points to the commission were primarily that since we allow Texans to text and drive despite the over 3,000 deaths on Texas roadways due to texting and driving we should allow Texas cyclists to decide when it is safe and where it is safe to ride.

The commission seemed to have made up their mind before the commission even convened. The interesting thing about this mornings “Agenda” with the Commish is they did not seem to hide the result oriented hearing on every item on the agenda which was obviously a pre-determined outcome. Serious Texas Politics happening at TXDOT.

The ban will affect all toll roads, Austin, Tyler, Dallas, San Antonio, Houston, this is wherever TXDOT controls toll roads.

ROT Rally 2013, Bigger, Better, Faster, More….

APD has issued notice that there will be stepped up patrol of all roads and highways specifically to address the motorcyclist casualties in Austin of last years ROT Rally attendees. There were 5 motorcycle riders who died in traffic collisions in Austin and hundreds of DUI arrests and nearly 200 motorcycle crashes on Austin’s roadways, not involving death. The campaign by APD is designated “Arrive Alive” and will also include enforcement of a no refusal weekend beginning on Thursday through Sunday.
We are local Austin Motorcycle Crash Attorneys, you get in trouble out there, we got your back.
Be careful. Ride Safe. Make Smart Decisions. If you are driving a car, WATCH FOR MOTORCYCLES- We will be everyhwere.

Cowboy HD ROT FB Page

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.

Insurance Demand Letters

A demand letter, as the title suggests, is a letter written to the insurance adjuster of the defendant who caused your harms prior to filing a lawsuit.

I often hear plaintiff attorneys talk about getting “low balled” in their settlement negotiations by insurance adjusters following the submission of the demand letter by the plaintiff’s attorney.

Why the settlement offers are lower than you thought? You think you did everything right and wrote a great demand letter to the insurance company, but did you?

A great demand letter begins with a great evaluation of your client and the case when they walk through the door. Absolutely everything that follows after that client signs the retainer agreement should be tightly managed and under the control of the attorney who manages that client’s file.

Your evaluation the day the client walked through the door to the time you write the demand letter to the insurance company should only be reshaped by unexpected medical treatment or new facts unknown by you or the client on the day of the intake.

When writing a demand letter knowing why the defendant(s) are liable is key and every statute or municipal code that is affected and every remedy available for the harm caused to your client. A very detailed explanation of all treatment demonstrating the client’s subjective and objective complaints, treatment, if the client followed orders and protocols, the assessment by physicians and therapists, and ongoing plans for treatment must be listed in chronological order. The more you demonstrate your own understanding of the medicine involved in your client’s claim and the better you are able to explain that to an adjuster in writing the more you will satisfy the question, “Can the attorney get this across to a jury?”

Detail every cost, back up every cost you listed with why you are entitled to it. Embed as much into that demand letter as you can, attachments are difficult and clumsy. Keeping a demand letter detailed yet simple is a gift and if done right will reap better results for your client. Print your demands in color and make sure you can show pictures of before and after and why your client will do well before a jury.

Don’t cut corners when putting together a demand letter. There may have been blood everywhere at the scene of your client’s crash or incident but don’t spill new blood and reduce the integrity of your client’s claim by being lazy with putting together the demand letter. Doing this to a client’s claim is an entirely different but equally valid bloodshed.

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