You are driving along in your car minding your own business going the speed limit (or close) when there in front of you is a bicycle rider – right in the lane – causing you to slow down to a near crawl. What is with them? If this sounds like something you have heard yourself saying you are not alone but let me suggest a different approach.
When you see a bicyclist ahead – Slow down (both literally and figuratively) – make sure they have adequate space and when safe, pass no closer than 3ft from them and make sure you don’t pull back until safely in front of the rider. Just taking those easy steps can prevent a serious injury or death to a cyclist and prevent a driver from having to live the rest of their lives with knowing what the loss they caused another family to endure.
Our firm handles severe personal injury and death cases and it would thrill me to never have to handle another case in which a bicyclist was injured or killed. We have seen the devastation it can cause both the rider and driver which could have all been prevented by just taking the actions above.
The laws applying to bicyclist vary from state to state, but generally are similar to Texas which states that Bikes are generally entitled to all rights and obligated to all duties of the road that apply to a motor vehicle. Tex. Transp. Code § 551.101, see also Tex. Transp. Code, Title 7, Subtitle C. Rules of the Road, Chapters 541 – 600 and that a person operating a bicycle, if moving slower than traffic, shall ride as near as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway. Tex. Transp. Code §551.103. By definition roadway does not include the shoulder of the roadway. Tex. Transp. Code §541.302. Passing a bicycle in car, truck, motorcycle, etc. is required to be on the left and at a safe distance. Several states have a definitive distance for safe passing and several cities in Texas such as Austin, San Antonio and Beaumont to name a few have implemented a safe passing zone of 3 feet. It seems like such a small inconvenience to slow down and pass safely compared to what could happen.
May is Bike Safety Month and this Wednesday May 20th at 7:00pm is the Ride of Silence. It will begin in many cities in North America, including Houston and take place throughout the world. The purpose of the ride is to silently honor the cyclists who have been killed or injured while riding on public roadways. The ride is also to remind us of what could have been if we had just slowed down. So next time you see a bicyclist, slow down give them at least 3 feet. You will be glad you did.