Watch out for bikesPublished 5:32pm Saturday, July 13, 2013
If a prominent Austinite can be struck by a car while riding her bike, then so can you.
Though Paramount Theatre executive director, Jennie Knoebel, only suffered minor injuries after she was knocked off her bike by an 88-year-old driver last week, her case is all too familiar to bicyclists in the area. That’s why drivers must watch out for bikers when the weather is nice.
There were 963 car-on-bike accidents in Minnesota in 2011, with 917 cyclists injured — 595 of those cyclists were 24-years-old or younger at the time of his or her accident. Five people were killed as a result of car-on-bike accidents in 2011 as well.
Drivers need to know cyclists by law have the same rights as other vehicles on the road, which means cyclists are subject to the same rules and rights that cars have. Always make sure to pass a cyclist on the road with a reasonable distance between the car and bike. Watch for cyclists when turning and make sure, if you’re parked on a street, to check your mirrors before opening your car door.
Austin is positioning itself to become a hub of bicycle traffic over the next few years as county officials work to complete the Shooting Star Trail, connect Austin to the Blazing Star Trail and potentially connect a bike trail to Iowa. Vision 2020 organizers are securing state, federal and private grants to beautify Austin trails within the city as well, and the city of Austin is already at work constructing trails and paths this summer.
Cycling is a growing means of transportation, not just in Austin but across the U.S. Given that, drivers should get used to seeing more bikers on the road and respecting their safety accordingly.