I’m an avid bike commuter and I recently moved to Austin. With all of its’ sunny days and unbearable heat in the summertime, I can see why the city has evolved into a driving city (despite the large cycling culture here). I wanted to see what parts of the parts of the city I should watch out for when riding, what roads to avoid, and what kinds of factors I should be aware of to avoid accidents. I reviewed all the bike-related crashes from Texas DOT’s Crash Records Information System and came across some interesting things that are not only specific to Austin but to commuters all around.
- The amount of bike incidents have remained steady from 2010-2017, at around 262 incidents a year. Over the last 8 years, there have been a total of 2096 bike incidents that were reported, affecting 2417 individuals. Note, this number primarily reflects incidents that were reported by cyclists.
- 78704 is the most popular area for crashes. Being a resident of the famous ‘04’ and commute downtown everyday, I notice how this popular tourist hot spot is less bike-friendly than other areas. I ride the treacherous 5 lane Congress Ave everyday and have to share the road with the traffic and cars daring to back into an angled parking spot. There are also primarily two arteries to get to downtown or north and south: 5th St. aka Hippie Highway and Congress’s bike lanes. First St is a four lane nightmare with no bike shoulders, and taking Lamar is equally as busy. Barton Springs and Oltorf are the two main ways to from east to west. With no alternative routes and residential streets that cut across town, it’s evident that five out of the top 10 streets where crashes occur are in the ‘04.’
- Most critical times are on Fridays and during Rush Hour. I say, it’s more like Happy Hour to me. Watch out for the worst traffic in the world meets drunk drivers. Not too add, drivers are generally distracted being on their phones all the time.
Being aware of some simple guidelines and clarifying assumptions can help us avoid accidents on the road. Not everyone is aware of the rules of the road. Some motorists are not aware of cyclists and consider the rules to be suggestions. Thus, these rules become places where bike crashes occur.
- Staying in your lane does not guarantee safety: 583 Incidents occurred at the signal light and 136 in Bike Lanes. It’s still helpful to obey red lights and traffic signs, as well as staying in the same direction as traffic.
- Wear Bright Clothes when biking in the day: 70% of the crashes occured in daylight. It helps to stay visible not just during nighttime in Austin. We may except
- Wear a helmet: Three-quarters of these incidents involved cyclists who did not wear or a helmet. Not to add, will guarantee a likelihood of a greater incapacitating injury.
I highly encourage you to explore the data yourself. (Link here) Recreate your daily commutes, see the activity in your own zip code and see where your curiosity takes you.