Safety Tips for Bicyclists and Pedestrians
For many Texas residents, walking or cycling from place to place is a convenient and affordable mode of transportation. Unfortunately, bicyclists and pedestrians are often at risk of an accident with a motor vehicle. Because a car is much larger and heavier than the average person, these collisions can be devastating. However, there are steps cyclists and pedestrians can take to prevent accidents and protect themselves from severe injuries.
How to Prevent an Accident with a Motor Vehicle
Although some collisions are unavoidable, certain safety tips can help pedestrians and cyclists stay safe on Texas roads. If you are traveling near moving traffic, it is important to remain aware of your surroundings, watch where you are traveling, and adhere to the following best practices.
- Make yourself visible by wearing bright clothing during the day and reflective clothing during the night. If you are riding a bike, make sure you have reflectors and lights. While walking at night, carry a flashlight.
- Be aware of blind spots. Large vehicles, such as commercial trucks and buses, have large areas around their sides where they cannot see a person. If you cannot see the driver in his or her mirrors, he or she cannot see you. Always assume the driver does not see you.
- Stay aware of your surroundings. Do not look at your phone, listen to loud music using earphones, or do any other activity that distracts you from walking or driving.
- Do not walk or cycle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If possible, take a safe ride home or use public transportation. Substances play a role in many pedestrian and cyclist collisions.
Right-of-Way Laws in Texas
To protect others on Texas roads, it is important for motorists to adhere to the right of way. However, cyclists and pedestrians must also follow right-of-way rules. In particular, bicyclists must adhere to the following rules.
- Cyclists must adhere to the same right-of-way responsibilities as motor vehicles.
- Cyclists must ride as far to the right side of the road as possible.
- Drivers must yield to cyclists on their right while making a right turn.
- Cyclists must follow all traffic signs and signals.
On the other hand, pedestrians must follow the below right-of-way laws.
- Pedestrians must use crosswalks and adhere to pedestrian signals.
- Drivers must yield to pedestrians at all marked and unmarked crosswalks.
- Pedestrians must yield the right of way to a vehicle if they are crossing the street other than a crosswalk.
- Pedestrians must yield the right of way to a vehicle if they are walking where there is a pedestrian tunnel or overhead crossing.
Are Bicyclists Required by Law to Wear a Helmet in Texas?
Helmets are an effective means of avoiding serious harm during an accident. Research shows that helmets provide a 63–88 percent reduction in severe head and brain injury during a collision, which often lead to permanent disability and potentially fatal complications.
Despite this evidence, Texas does not require bicyclists to wear a helmet. Municipal laws may override this legislation; for example, Austin requires children ages 17 and under to wear a helmet. However, McAllen does not enforce a widespread bicycle helmet law, even for cyclists under the age of 18.
If you are in a bicycle accident in Texas, you may have the right to file an insurance claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver—even if you were not wearing a helmet at the time of the collision. Pedestrians also have the right to file a claim. In these situations, contact a McAllen bicycle accident attorney as soon as possible to discuss your next steps.