Bicycling is, for many Americans, a primary mode of transportation to and from work and a number of other destinations. With the increase in bicycling in recent years, though, concerns over traffic safety issues have arisen as it has become clear that there are challenges to motorists and bicyclists sharing the road.
One of the unfortunate realities of the situation is that authorities have not always exercised understanding when it comes to investigating accidents involving bicyclists. This has been the case in Austin, where officers have been known for years in the cycling community as being biased in their investigations and issuance of traffic citations.
The big complaint from the cycling community has been that officers do not understand cyclists’ equal rights to utilize roadways and do not punish motorists for their contributions to cycling accidents. Motorists, to be sure, are at fault in the majority of car-bike collisions—79 percent according to one study.
Fortunately, according to those who follow the issue, progress is being made in this area. Beginning in 2007, with the installment of Art Acevedo as police chief, the attitude toward bicycling began to change for the better.
The claimed improvements, though, are not met with enthusiasm from all quarters. Some personal injury attorneys have expressed concern that officers still do not conduct thorough enough investigations and that often they are still biased against cyclists.
With the police department continuing to work on improving its approach to investigation of bicycle accidents, things will hopefully improve. Bicyclists who have been seriously harmed by a motorist, though, need to secure a strong advocate to ensure their civil rights to compensation are exercised.