According to the Houston Chronicle, Houston officials are considering passing a safe-passing ordinance to help prevent accidents between motorists and other people who use the road. Currently, Houston is the only major city in Texas that lacks a safe-passing ordinance. Safe-passing ordinances require drivers to maintain a particular distance away from non-motorists who are on the roads, and to give them adequate room when passing.
For years, motorists and cyclists across the nation have been fighting about how to properly use the roadways. Over time, cyclists have gained the upper hand. 39 states currently have safe-passing laws on the books. On average, the law requires that motorists give at least three feet of clearance when passing a non-motorist. In Texas, the ordinance under consideration is recommending that along with leaving at least six feet of space behind a non-motorist when driving behind them. The ordinance also extends to “pedestrians, runners, stranded motorists, construction workers, tow truck operators, riders on horseback and other ‘vulnerable’ road users.”
These types of laws are extremely important. Every year, many people get seriously injured or killed as a result of cars passing too closely to cyclists. Road construction crews already get special protections and still injuries occur because many motorists believe they own the road. This leads to inattentive driving and tragic accidents, many of which come through our practice.
Bike lanes will also need to be repaired and upgraded. The ordinance will require cyclists to use the bike lane if it is available, but many bike lanes are in poor condition. Cyclists are voicing their concerns about this particular issue at hearings for the ordinance. Many accidents occur because a cyclist swerves into traffic to avoid a hazard in the bike lane such as a pothole.
Then there’s the issue of cyclists not following traffic laws. This is the main complaint for motorists who have to share the road. Sometimes accidents occur because bicycles run red lights and stop signs, or fail to use hand signals properly. If you’re a cyclist, you must learn to use the rules of the road or your case may be greatly weakened.
Accidents between cyclists and motorists tend to be very bad for the cyclist. Helmets do help prevent some of the more serious injuries, but there are plenty of other injuries that can be grounds for a legal suit. Take a look at our bicycle injuries page to find out more.