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Another tragedy, another call for better streets

June 7, 2016, Alexei Baureis, a 14-year-old was hit and killed on his bicycle at the intersection of Spicewood Springs and Rustic Rock Drive. A large truck hit this child. After noting that the driver was not intoxicated and cooperative KXAN reports that police warn “with summer here, people on bikes should be certain to make sure they have their lights and reflectors in place, there is no mention that lights or reflectors were a factor. There is no warning to motorists to make sure their vehicles are operational, that they are not driving distracted or without lights.

A 14-year-old is dead. Looking at the intersection (see interactive street view below) where he died it is clear, there is no infrastructure for people on bikes. Had the motorist been looking and driving with lights on and seeing what there is to be seen and observing the vulnerable road user ordinance, would this young person still be with us? Had the City provided adequate street lighting and a bicycle lane would this young person still be with us?

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Need a last-minute gift for your cyclist or pedestrian friends and family?

Five gift ideas to keep your friends and loved ones safe on the road

Still looking for the perfect last-minute gift? Here are five holiday gift ideas perfect for those friends and family members whose preferred mode of transportation is not always a car!

Vespertine Haute Réflecture reflective clothing
Price: Varies

One of the best things about this gift is its versatility. Reflective clothing is useful for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcycle riders, or anyone else who might not be clearly seen on a road in the dark of night. Vespertine offers a range of reflective tops, vests, jackets, dresses, accessories, belts, and even jewelry. Most of the reflective materials surpass the ANSI and EN 471 regulations, so wearers can be seen in a car’s headlights from up to 2,000 feet away. Even better, these clothes are made with eco-friendly fabrics, and they are all made in the USA.

Bike2Power hub-mounted USB charger
Price: $119

This handy gadget allows bicycle riders to charge their USB devices while they ride, including smart phones. It fits most existing bicycles and can be installed on the front or the rear wheel. It can also be switched from bike to bike.

Serfas Thunderbolt USB headlight
Price: $45

This USB-rechargeable light can be mounted almost anywhere on the front of a bicycle. It puts out up to 90 lumens, and it has run times ranging from 1.25 hours (high) to 7.5 hours (low flashing). It also comes in eight different colors.

TiGr® Bow-Locks™
Price: $124.99-$199.99

This bicycle lock is simple, light, and easy to store when not in use. It is also highly resistant to lock picks, bolt cutters, and sawing.

Stemrack
Price: $29

Stemrack can be attached quickly to a bicycle to securely hold just about any type of handheld device, including phones, iPods, and GPS devices. With the new hands-free law going into effect in Austin in January, this is a must-have for cyclists!

Bike Safety Tips for Riding in the Rain

Rainy day bicycle safety tips

Bike Safety Tips for Riding in the RainAustin is a great place to live, and many residents choose to take advantage of the ease of biking to many of the places that they might need to go. However, when it rains (as it has so much recently!), riding a bicycle can become much more hazardous, not to mention more uncomfortable for the rider!

Even so, there are many ways to make to make riding your bicycle in the rain a safer and much more pleasant experience. For instance:

• Light up that bike! If people can’t see you, then you stand a much greater chance of being hit. Rain and the resulting glare will reduce motorists’ vision, so be sure to put LED lights on your seatpost and handlebars. You might also consider an LED light that flashes red or a rechargeable lighting system.

• Remember to take additional safety measures when conditions are wet. Your tires will be more likely to slide out when you turn, and your braking distance will be shorter. Leather brake shoes might help reduce slippage and allow you to stop more quickly in the rain. Also watch out for painted lines on the road, which might be slicker than other parts of the pavement, and other hazards such as leaves, manholes, puddles, or any other danger that might be lurking in the road.

• Reduce your speed! It’s harder to avoid hazards in the rain, and it’s better to get to your destination a little later in one piece than to risk unnecessary injury to yourself or others.

• Use a heavier chain lube to help prevent rusting. There are some that are made especially for wet conditions.

• Be sure you have fenders over your front and rear tires. You can even cut strips from old water bottles and attach them to your fenders to make them longer!

• Consider buying a seat cover. It will help protect your bike, and it may increase your personal comfort as well!

• Buy a rain bike. If you’re going to be riding in the rain often, you may want to invest in a bike that you don’t mind exposing to more hazardous weather conditions. You may even have an older bike lying around that you can dedicate for rainy-day riding, thus saving your favorite bike from exposure to the elements.

• Choose appropriate clothing if you know in advance that you might be riding in the rain. You can wear a cycling cap under your helmet to help protect your head. Also be sure that you have a good cycling jacket. Being waterproof may not be enough-be sure the jacket also has some breathability. Also remember that normal raincoats may be too long to safely wear while riding. You can also cover your shoes to help keep the rain off your feet. They sell waterproof shoe covers, but you might be able to achieve the same result with a plastic bag and a little bit of crafting!

• Be aware that rain may reduce your range of vision, especially if you wear glasses that might get wet or foggy. You can help prevent this by purchasing a specialty helmet, or you could even try your hand at making your own visor out of an old soda bottle!

Following these tips can help you ride more safely and comfortably in inclement weather. However, if you are injured while riding your bicycle, contact Shefman Law.

Austin’s Vulnerable Road Users Law Explained

Young male cyclist with courier delivery bag riding bicycle on sYou might have heard about the Vulnerable Road Users Law that was passed several years ago in Austin, but what does this really mean both to cyclists and to drivers?

It is important to know the rights and responsibilities that all parties have to share the road. First, we must ask who is a vulnerable road user? Essentially, a vulnerable road user is anyone who might be on the road in something other than a vehicle. This includes bicycle riders, motorcyclists, pedestrians, or even someone riding a horse! Whether you are a driver or a vulnerable road user, there are certain things you should know about what the Austin law requires.

Drivers:

· If you want to pass a cyclist going in the same direction and there’s another lane also going in that direction, you must move into the other lane.

· If there’s not another lane going the same direction, then pass the cyclist only if it can be done at a safe distance. A safe distance is considered 3 feet for cars and light trucks. For trucks and other commercial vehicles, the required safe distance is 6 feet. Note that this distance is measured from the edge of your mirror or from the item that projects farthest from your vehicle, not from the body of the vehicle.

· Drivers making a left-hand turn must yield to vulnerable road users approaching from the opposite direction.

· Drivers may not make a right-hand turn in front of the cyclist unless there is clearly a safe distance between the car and the cyclist at all times.

· The driver should take due care to avoid hitting cyclists on the roadway or in intersections.

· Drivers may not in any way threaten, intimidate, or harass cyclists.

Cyclists:

· It is the cyclist’s responsibility to obey all traffic rules and regulations. If you are breaking a law when riding, the city may not be able to prosecute a driver under the Vulnerable Road Users Law.

· Stay alert. Just because it’s a law doesn’t mean that the driver will heed it. Even if you may be in the right, it’s still better if you can avoid injury in the first place.

· If you have been injured, contact Shefman Law, where an experienced bicycle accident attorney can help you with your case!

Other cities, such as Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, El Paso, and Beaumont, have also passed laws related to vulnerable road users and/or safe passing.

Additionally, numerous bills are currently before the state legislature that would provide increased protection for cyclists and other vulnerable road users. Bike Texas has some excellent information on the legislative history of such bills.

If you support the passage of the state-wide Safe Passing Ordinance, you can also sign a petition to let legislators know!

Summer Bicycle Riding Tips

With the solstice just passed and summer in full swing, we know how quintessentially Austin it is to take an evening ride and perhaps stop for a quick swim. And taking a dip in Barton Springs is so much easier when you can just roll up to the gate and not have to worry about parking!
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