As the price of gas climbs and Texans start to think more about their health, riding a bicycle has become more and more common—both here and across the nation. Whether for fun, for health, or for the daily commute, many more adults are now choosing to use pedal power to get around, especially in urban areas. But to travel safely, it’s important that both riders and drivers educate themselves about riding.
Here are some of the most common myths about bicycles and bike accidents in Texas, and what you can to do get legal help if you’ve been hurt.
Myths About Bicycles and Texas Law
While bicycling has been around a long time, there are still many misconceptions about bicycle riding and accidents involving bicycle riders. Here are four of the biggest misunderstandings that many people have about riding a bike in Texas:
Myth: Bicyclists don’t have a right to use the road.
Many people believe that bicyclists don’t have a right to use the road, or that they must ride on the sidewalk. This is untrue. Texas law makes it clear that bicyclists are well within their rights to share the road with motor vehicles, and in fact, riding a bicycle on the sidewalk can be more dangerous than street riding. In some urban areas, sidewalk riding may even be illegal by local ordinance.
Myth: Bicyclists must stay as far to the right as possible at all times.
While it’s true that the law generally requires bicyclists to stay to the right, there are many exceptions to this rule. For example, when passing another vehicle, making a left turn, or when a matter of safety is at hand—such as an obstacle or other road hazard—riders may leave the curb area. Bicyclists may also ride two abreast as long as doing so does not impede traffic. Local regulations may also affect when riders may take control of a lane by moving away from the curb. For example, Austin maintains “vulnerable road user” provisions that provide additional protections for bicyclists, pedestrians, and others who are disproportionately at risk for severe injury by automobiles.
Myth: Bicyclists are the cause of most accidents.
While there are times when bicyclists are responsible for accidents, motor vehicle drivers cause many car-bicycle accidents. Drivers have a responsibility to operate their vehicles safely and with care. Failure to check blind spots before turning, not using signals to indicate intent to turn, and failure to leave at least three feet of room when passing bicyclists (or six feet, for larger motor vehicles) are all often causes of collisions with bicyclists.
Myth: Bicyclists can’t recover damages if they share any fault for the crash.
Texas is a state that uses a comparative negligence model of liability for personal injury lawsuits. This means that a determination will be made about the relative percentage of fault that each person involved in the accident shares, and any damage awards will be adjusted accordingly. While a person cannot seek damages if he or she is found to be 51 percent or more liable, as long as the bicyclist’s share of the responsibility is less than half, he or she can seek a monetary award for damages. For instance, if an automobile driver is found to be 80 percent responsible for an accident, and the bicyclist is found to be 20 percent responsible, the award to the bicyclist will be reduced by 20 percent. The automobile driver will not be able to recover damages at all.
It’s important to note that accident with a car may not even need to involve direct contact with the vehicle. If a cyclist is forced into a dangerous situation by a motor vehicle driver and is hurt, he or she may still be able to seek compensation for any injuries sustained as a result of the driver’s actions.
Get Legal Help Today
Whether you’re a motor vehicle driver or a cyclist, learning your rights on the road is critical so that you can do your part to avoid preventable accidents. You may even save a life—and it could be your own.
If you’ve been hurt in a bicycle accident, you have certain legal rights, including the right to seek financial compensation from the person responsible for your injuries. You may be owed money for your medical bills, physical therapy or rehabilitation, pain and suffering, and more.
Wayne Wright LLP has been standing up for the rights of those who have been seriously injured in preventable accidents, and we would like to help you seek the justice you deserve in a court of law. To arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced legal professionals, call us by phone, use our contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page right now.