Houston has long been known as a commuter city. The sheer size of the city combined with urban sprawl has made owning a vehicle a necessity for the vast majority of Houstonians. However, over the last decade, the city has made a focused effort to make its central core friendlier for pedestrians and bicyclists. Bike paths through the city’s parks and designated bike lanes on downtown streets encourage residents to forgo their car for a bicycle. The city has even passed new laws that restrict how closely a vehicle may pass a cyclist on the road.
Even with those improvements, cycling safety in Houston still has a long way to go.
Fatal Bicycle Accident Statistics in Houston
In the past month alone, three cyclists were killed in accidents with motor vehicles. A fourth was killed after hitting debris in the road.
Since 2010, there have been at least 23 fatal bicyclist accidents in Houston city limits. When taking into account the Greater Houston area, that number is much higher. For example, in 2013 alone, there were 12 fatal bicycle accidents across the metropolitan area.
In Texas, only bicycle accidents that result in a fatality must be reported, so there is no data on how many non-fatal bicycle accidents occur each year, but it can be assumed that the number is an order of magnitude above the number of fatal accidents. Many of those accidents involve being struck by a motor vehicle. According to a study conducted by the National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA), nearly 30% of all bicyclist accidents involve being hit by a car.
Preventing Bicycle Accidents
There are a number of things that can be done to reduce the number of bicycle accidents on Houston’s streets, but it will take the commitment of the city, bicyclists, and motorists alike.
- Expanded infrastructure: Houston has taken steps to build more bike paths and lanes for cyclists. The city should continue in that direction to ensure that cyclists and motorists can co-exist safely.
- Increased education: Both motorists and cyclists need to be better educate on the rules of the road so they can avoid accidents. Many accidents occur simply because motorists are not being attentive or expecting to cross paths with a cyclist. For example, a motorist pulling out of a parking lot may look for oncoming cars, but forgets to check for a cyclist who may be approaching on the sidewalk.
- Better enforcement of current laws: As mentioned previously, Houston has passed laws that are aimed at protecting cyclists, but those often go unenforced. By better enforcing the laws that are already on the books, we can reduce the number of accidents.
Understanding Your Rights as a Bicyclist
If you are a bicyclist and have been injured in an accident with a motor vehicle, it is important that you understand your rights. If the accident was wholly or partially due to the negligence of the motor vehicle driver, you could be entitled to compensation. Contact our bicycle accident attorneys today for a free consultation about your legal rights.