Bicycle infrastructure is one of the key elements in reducing the risk of bicycle accidents. One study found that Austin invested the most money in safe infrastructure for cyclists out of the 13 cities studied. However, that does not mean bicyclists are not injured and killed in bicycle crashes in Austin.
Bicycle Accident Statistics for Austin, TX
The most recent data from the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles is the 2021 crash report. There were 2,265 bicycle crashes statewide that year, killing 90 cyclists.
According to Austin Vision Zero, three people died in bicycle accidents in 2021. However, bicycle fatalities fell to just one bicyclist in 2022. In addition, the number of severe injuries from bicycle accidents fell from 27 in 2021 to 22 in 2022.
Austin Invests in Safe Bicycle Infrastructure Throughout the City
A significant element in the plan to reduce bicycle accidents in Austin is improving bicycle infrastructure. Austin began building protected bike lanes throughout the city in 2010. By 2021, there were over 50 miles of protected bicycle lanes in Austin.
Examples of the barriers used to protect bicycle lanes from traffic lanes in Austin include:
- Flex posts
- Concrete buttons
- Concrete curbs
- Parking-protected bike lanes
In addition to using various barriers to protect bicyclists from traffic lanes, the city also uses protected intersections. The designs keep physical protection continuous through the intersection to protect bicyclists.
The city’s Bicycle Program aims to advance walking and biking as a means of community transportation. The goals include:
- Make streets more attractive places for people
- Improve safety to reduce injuries and deaths from accidents
- Improve climate resiliency and air quality
- Expand affordable travel choices while taming traffic
- Improve community fitness and health
Programs that aid in meeting these goals include the Austin Bicycle Plan, Smart Trips Program, Vision Zero, and bicycle parking for businesses throughout the city.
On September 7, 2021, the City of Austin issued a press release announcing it had passed the halfway milestone for completing its All Ages and Abilities (AAA) Bicycle Network. As of that time, the city had completed 215 miles of the bicycle network. In addition, more than 64% of residents live within a half-mile of an AAA bikeway.
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents in Austin, TX
Even though the City of Austin has constructed more than one-half of the over 400 miles of their bicycle network, bicycle accidents continue to occur. Unfortunately, many of the bicycle crashes in Austin are preventable. They are caused by cyclist or motorist errors.
Common causes of bicycle crashes include:
- Distracted bicycling and driving
- Driving or bicycling under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs
- Failure to yield the right of way
- Operating a bicycle or motor vehicle when drowsy or fatigued
- Speeding and reckless driving or bicycling
- Failing to obey traffic laws and bicycle laws
Motorists and bicyclists can reduce the number of bicycle accidents by paying closer attention to the road. Bicyclists can reduce their risk of being in a bicycle accident by remaining alert, following traffic laws, and wearing brightly colored clothing to increase visibility to drivers.
What Types of Injuries Do Bicyclists Sustain?
Bicyclists should also wear a bicycle helmet and other protective gear to reduce the risk of serious and life-threatening injuries. Unfortunately, a bike rider has virtually no protection from the impact of a vehicle. Therefore, a crash involving a motor vehicle can cause life-threatening injuries.
Bicyclists often sustain multiple injuries in a crash, including:
- Broken bones and fractures
- Lacerations and scrapes
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injury, including paralysis
- Loss of limbs and amputations
- Internal bleeding and damage to internal organs
- Neck and back injuries
The damages caused by a bicycle accident go beyond physical pain and suffering. A bicyclist incurs medical bills, lost wages, and other out-of-pocket expenses. If they sustain a permanent impairment or disability, the expenses could continue for the rest of their life.
If the driver caused the bicycle accident, the rider could talk with a bicycle accident lawyer about filing a personal injury claim. The at-fault driver might be liable for the rider’s financial losses, physical injuries, and other damages.
Austin Continues to Improve Bicycle Safety
City leaders have worked diligently to ensure that the Bicycle Plan remains on track. As a result, the plan to improve bicycle safety has decreased the number of fatal and severe bicycle accidents. However, there is still work to be finished before the city has a safe bicycle network that encompasses every area of the city.