Cyclists are hardly protected from the dangers of the road in the Lone Star State
Texas is teeming with bicyclists, especially in large cities like Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin where many Texans rely on bicycles as their primary form of transportation.
Unfortunately, bicycles don’t provide riders with nearly as much protection as motor vehicles, and bicycle accidents often result in serious injuries and even death.
Texas bicycle accident statistics
Texas has a lot to offer bicyclists, including warm weather and miles of scenic trails. Unfortunately, Texas consistently ranks as one of the most dangerous places for bicyclists to travel.
Here are some eye-opening Texas bicycle accident statistics:
- Approximately 60 bicyclists are killed in bike accidents in Texas every year
- Houston is one of the 10 most dangerous cities for bicyclists in the United States
- Within Texas, Travis County had the most bike accidents between 2010–2016 (1,985 accidents)
- Texas ranked 3rd among all states for bicycle fatalities in 2017
Common causes of bicycle accidents
Bicycle accidents can be caused by several factors, including potholes, defective bicycle parts, and poor weather. However, most bicycle accidents are caused by some form of negligence, either on behalf of the bicyclist or another driver.
These most common examples of biker or driver negligence include:
- Pulling out of an intersection in front of a vehicle or bicycle
- Driving distracted
- Driving under the influence of drugs/alcohol
- Running a red light or ignoring a stop sign
- Failing to yield at an intersection
- Passing on the right
- Riding in a vehicle's blind spot and failing to check blind spots when changing lanes
- Failing to drive in the designated bicycle lane
What are the biggest road hazards for bicyclists?
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, the 4 most common road hazards cyclists should look out for include:
- Sewer or cattle grates. In addition to watching traffic, be aware of the road surface. Your wheels can easily get caught in sewer or cattle grates.
- Parked cars. Whenever possible, keep a car door’s width away from parked cars to avoid unexpected door openings (called a “dooring”).
- Surface conditions. Be aware of ice, water, loose gravel, uneven pavement, rumble strips, and any other road surface that could be dangerous.
- Railroad tracks. Be sure to cross railroad tracks perpendicular to the rails (straight on) between 60–90 degrees.
Bicycle accidents can cause serious injuries
Because of the lack of protection surrounding bicyclists, bicycle accidents tend to be more severe than car accidents. Not only that, but bicycle accidents often yield serious injuries to more than one area of the body.
The most common injuries sustained in bicycle accidents include:
Texas bike laws
In the majority of circumstances, bicycles are considered vehicles and subject to most of the same traffic laws (and have the same rights). This means stopping at stop signs and traffic lights, yielding when required, and taking reasonable care to avoid acts that may injure others on the road.
However, Texas has some specific laws for bicyclists that, when violated, can be grounds for negligence. Most of these laws can be found in Chapter 551 of the Texas Transportation Code and include:
- Bicyclists must ride on the right side of the road as close to the curb as possible, except when safely passing a vehicle or turning left
- Bicyclists are prohibited from riding on the sidewalk
- Bicyclists must use arm signals when turning
- Bicyclists must have a white light on the front and a red reflector or red light on the rear of their bicycle when riding at night
- A person may not use a bicycle to carry more people than the bicycle is designed or equipped to carry
- A person operating a bicycle may not carry any object that prevents the operator from keeping at least one hand on the handlebars
Is it illegal to ride a bicycle without a helmet in Texas?
Texas doesn’t have a statewide helmet law. However, certain cities, including Austin, Houston, and Fort Worth, have passed mandatory helmet laws for children under the age of 18.
Who can I sue for my bicycle accident?
If you’ve been involved in a bicycle accident, you can sue anyone who may have caused or contributed to the accident. In most cases, bike accidents are caused by a negligent driver. But, sometimes bike accidents are caused by the town (if the road wasn’t properly maintained) or by the manufacturer of the bike (if the bike was defective).
An experienced personal injury attorney can help you determine who may be liable for your accident.
What if I’m partially responsible?
Texas is a modified comparative fault state. This means that if you’re partially responsible for your accident, the damages you can collect are reduced by your percentage of fault. What’s more, if you’re more than 50% at fault, you’re prohibited from recovering any damages.
For example, if you’re riding your bike on the wrong side of the road and the driver of a parked car opens their car door and hits you, the court might decide that you were 40% at fault and the driver was 60% at fault. In that case, you would only be able to recover 60% of your total damages.
On the other hand, if the court determined that you were 60% at fault and the driver was 40% at fault, you wouldn’t be able to recover any of your damages.
What damages are available in a bike accident case?
Bicyclists have the same rights as motorists when it comes to collecting damages for their injuries. This means that injured bicyclists can receive compensation for:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Pain and suffering due to injuries
- Emotional trauma
- Lost wages or time at work
What should you do following a bicycle accident?
First things first, knowing how to respond in the event of an accident can be crucial to receiving proper care and building a strong personal injury case.
If you find yourself in a bicycle accident, you should:
- Contact emergency services. Your health should be your first priority. Contact emergency services if you or anyone else at the scene is injured.
- Gather evidence. If you’re able, take pictures of the scene from as many angles and distances as you can. You should also write down the names and contact information of anyone involved in the accident and all witnesses who saw the accident.
- Visit a physician. Bicycle accident injuries can show up days or even weeks after the accident. Be sure to visit a doctor even if you don’t think your injuries are severe. Physicians can provide documentation of your injuries to help support your case later on.
- Collect and keep documentation. Keep copies of the police report, any medical documentation or bills, any pictures, and witness statements in a safe place.
- Contact an attorney. Attorneys who are experienced with bicycle accidents can help determine who was at fault and how much compensation you’re entitled to.
Need a lawyer?
A personal injury lawyer helps individuals who have sustained injuries in accidents to recover financial compensation. These funds are often needed to pay for medical treatment, make up for lost wages and provide compensation for injuries suffered. Sometimes a case that seems simple at first may become more complicated. In these cases, consider hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer. Read more