Recently, the City of Austin installed temporary bicycle lanes on Congress Avenue in Austin, from 11th Street, across Ann Richards Bridge, to Riverside Drive. The move is intended to allot more space for people to exercise and make more essential trips safely, as well as to hopefully promote greater social distancing. However, because more inexperienced bicyclists may choose to use the lanes, it also may lead to an uptick in accidents. If you are involved in an accident in a bike lane, you may have some choices to make if you wish to seek compensation for your injuries.
Positives and Negatives of Bicycle Lanes
Texas is a state with a high amount of bicyclists and other pedestrians, but correspondingly, more accidents occur, particularly between bicyclists and vehicles. Bicycle accidents have been on the rise in Texas, as well as cyclist fatalities – 2018 data saw 72, which does not seem like very many, but the previous year saw only 57, which is approximately a 26 percent increase. It is worth asking why and trying to be aware of potential hazards.
Bicycle lanes can somewhat help with lowering the number of accidents, but at the same time, it is unfortunately common for car drivers and motorcyclists to simply ignore the lanes’ existence – many bicycle accidents happen because someone opens a door into the bike lanes, or swerves out of a parking place before checking for bicyclists. It can also be difficult to get your medical bills paid for these types of accidents, as insurers are very quick to blame the non-motorist in these types of situations. This is despite injured bicyclists possibly sustaining all manner of injuries, from mere cuts and bruises to broken bones to traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and the like.
Rights and Responsibilities
Just like vehicle drivers, bicyclists do have responsibilities that they must uphold as road users. For example, the Texas Transportation Code states that bicyclists must have certain reflectors on their machine, and must use hand and arm signals to telegraph their intentions in terms of turns and merging. These same regulations apply regardless of whether someone is riding in a bicycle lane or on the road – but at the same time, failure to obey one or more of these responsibilities does not mean that you cannot try to establish liability on the part of a negligent driver.
In order to establish that a driver was negligent, you must be able to show that they breached their duty to exercise reasonable care toward other motorists on the road, and that the breach of duty was the direct cause of the injuries you suffered. Texas follows a doctrine known as comparative fault, which means that you can be found partially liable for your own harm and still recover minus your percentage of fault – so, for example, if you are found 20 percent responsible for your own injuries, you would still, in theory, be able to recover 80 percent of your damages.
Call a New Braunfels Bicycle Accident Attorney
While the effect of the temporary bicycle lanes on Congress Ave has yet to be seen as of this writing, it is important for bicyclists and motorists everywhere to understand the rules of the road. If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, a dedicated New Braunfels bicycle accident attorney from the Bettersworth Law Firm can be a great help in determining how to move forward. Contact our offices today at 888-392-0039 to schedule a free consultation.