Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety in the Law

| October 10, 2020 | Reply

Photo courtesy of Chris Jennings

While driving in a residential area a few weeks ago, I saw a woman and two children (presumably a mother and her kids) riding bicycles. She was leading them through the streets. My first thought was, “What a nice way for family time during this pandemic.”

Then, I saw that she didn’t stop and have them stop for a stop sign. Instead, they barreled through it and then again ignored the next stop sign. My thoughts changed to, “She should be teaching them rules of the road.”

Years ago, when teaching driver education, a student told me he’d gotten a speeding ticket while on his bicycle. He said he was going down a hill and picked up good speed. But, the speed limit there was 30 MPH, as it is in all residential areas in Texas, unless there is a speed limit sign depicting higher or lower limits.

Then, today, got this from Texas Department of Transportation, giving statistics on their new Safety Campaign. Very glad to see this…

TxDOT press release — Fatalities from crashes involving pedestrians are on the rise in Texas and now account for nearly one in five of all of the state’s traffic deaths. Last year, 668 people died in pedestrian-related crashes in Texas, up by 5% from 2018, and more than 1,300 were seriously injured. Crashes involving bicyclists in 2019 also claimed the lives of 68 people and seriously injured 313. These numbers follow an alarming trend that has seen pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities increase over the last five years. Nov. 7, 2000 was the last deathless day on Texas roadways.

“Whether you’re behind the wheel, on foot, or riding a bicycle , we’re reminding Texans to make traffic safety their number one concern when they’re out and about,” said TxDOT Executive Director James Bass. “The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us the importance of looking after ourselves and others in our communities, and we’re asking the public to apply that same responsibility to safely sharing the road and obeying traffic laws.”

TxDOT wants people to know and follow state laws for safe driving, walking and biking. State laws mandate stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks, yielding the right of way to pedestrians and cyclists when turning, and passing cyclists at a safe distance and giving them room to ride.

Pedestrians should cross the street only at intersections and crosswalks, obey all traffic and crosswalk signals, and always use sidewalks when available. If there isn’t a sidewalk, pedestrians should walk on the left side of the street or road, facing oncoming traffic.

Like drivers, bicyclists are required to obey all traffic signs and signals, including stopping at red lights and stop signs. State laws also dictate that those who ride bicycles must use hand signals when turning or stopping, ride with traffic, use bike lanes or ride as near as possible to the right-hand curb, and when riding at night, make sure their bikes have a white light on the front and a red light or reflector on the back.

Be Safe. Drive Smart.” and TxDOT’s pedestrian and bicycle safety initiative are key components of #EndTheStreakTX, a broader social media and word-of-mouth effort that encourages drivers to make safer choices while behind the wheel, like wearing a seat belt, driving the speed limit, never texting and driving and never driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Nov. 7, 2000, was the last deathless day on Texas roadways. #EndTheStreakTX asks all Texans to commit to driving safely to help end the streak of daily deaths on Texas roadways.

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Category: *- Features, Van Alstyne News

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