If you remember only one thing to do after an accident, make it this: Grab your phone and record as much information as you can. Take photos or video. Record yourself talking. Write notes. What you’re able to note, film or photograph depends on how hurt or shaken up you are, but any information like this can help your case later.
Texas riders should get familiar with statutes including §12-1-35, which says that drivers have to pass you at a safe distance: three feet for cars and light trucks, six feet for other trucks and commercial vehicles.
It’s also important to know that lane splitting — utilizing the space between two vehicles to pass — is illegal in Texas and in most other states. Always check the local laws and state codes where you’re riding.
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do about car and truck drivers who are distracted, who don’t see you or who pull illegal or unexpected traffic maneuvers.
But you can still take steps to stay safe. You need protective gear, of course. But even more than that, you should be in the mindset of heading off danger every time you get on your bike. Here are the basics that good bikers live by:
Stay out of blind spots, keep a safe distance and always provide yourself an out if the car ahead of you stops suddenly.
Know who — and what — is behind you. Carefully watch vehicles entering traffic from side streets and stay aware of where they are.
Keep eye contact with drivers as you take your turn in a right-of-way situation will assure that drivers acknowledge your right-of-way.
Know your bike, and know its limits. Know your own limits, too.
Registering your bike with the Austin Police Department will help you recover it if it’s ever stolen. If you ride your bicycle on the University of Texas campus, you have to register it there, too.
Two key rules to know: Bicycle riders are not permitted to ride on most downtown sidewalks, and helmets are required for riders under 18.
Remember: Drivers aren’t looking. When vehicles exit private driveways onto sidewalks, drivers often fail to look for bicycle riders and walkers.
If a driver swings open a door without looking and hits you, you could be seriously injured or killed. It’s not always possible, but try to keep 4 to 5 feet between you and car doors that could open and hit you. Where bikes are allowed full use of traffic lanes, move closer to the center of the lane and away from cars parked on the shoulder to create a buffer zone.
Stop and contact police with identifying information about any vehicle operated by an aggressive driver.
Regularly check the brakes, tires, wheel alignment, seat, handlebars, axle nuts and bearings, and your bike chain. Adjust, replace or tighten things as necessary. If you aren’t sure how to do this, stop by a local bike shop and ask them to help you.
For those late night or early-morning rides, make sure your bike is equipped with lights. And remember your extra batteries, brightly colored clothing and reflective gear.
Up to 85 percent of head injuries can be prevented through proper usage of properly fitting helmets, according to The American Association of Neurological Surgeons.
Hands-free ordinances apply to bicyclists too. Keep your gear in a carrier or backpack.
Meetings are 6 p.m. the first Monday of each month at Austin City Hall.
The city needs to hear about situations (like a city construction crew blocking sidewalks you use) that make it more dangerous to walk.
A new group dedicated to walkers’ rights, safety and interests, is in the works from Bike Austin.
If you get around on foot in Austin, you have to deal with a hard truth: This city just isn’t built for walkers. That means you have to be extra vigilant when you walk.
The city isn’t obligated to take care of the tree branches above you or the holes or bumps on the ground. So you have to be alert for them (in addition to monitoring the traffic around you).
While Austin in general doesn’t have good infrastructure for walkers, some areas are especially bad. Interstate 35 can be deadly for walkers, and Rundberg and Riverside are also danger zones. Streets like Lamar and Guadalupe have more foot traffic as the city grows, but they’re still designed for motorists, not walkers.
Many crashes involving walkers happen when it’s dark outside, so it’s smart to carry a light. You might think a reflective vest sounds like overkill, but it’s not.