Houston is not known to be a bike-friendly town, a problem that has continued to grow along with the city’s population as the roads get more crowded. Despite increased attention to the issue, reports of cyclists being killed and seriously injured by reckless drivers have become all too frequent in recent years.
Unfortunately, a recent law meant to address the problem appears to have done little to make the roads safer for Houston cyclists. In 2013, the city passed an ordinance called the “Vulnerable Road User” or “Safe Passing” law. That law requires cars and light trucks to allow at least 3 feet of space when passing a cyclist; commercial trucks must allow at least 6 feet. Yet as the Houston Chronicle reports today, the law is rarely enforced, with fewer than a dozen citations issued in the 20 months in which it has been in effect. (Begley, Dug, “Law to help cyclists spurs few citations,” Houston Chronicle, 7 January 2014: A1. Print.)
This report comes as no surprise to those who take to the roadways on their bikes. Despite having the same legal rights to use the roads as cars and trucks, drivers routinely endanger cyclists with aggressive, unsafe behavior, and ignore the “safe passing” law. Tragically, it is nearly always the cyclist, not the driver, who pays the price for such reckless conduct-too often with his or her life.
Whether you are a cyclist, a driver, or both, please share the road safely, and educate your friends and family about Houston’s “safe passing” law. One cyclist death in 2015 is too many.
Attorney Sammy Ford is an enthusiastic cyclist and has extensive experience representing bicycle accident victims, having spoken on this issue of biker safety to cyclist groups around the city of Houston. If you or someone you know has been injured in a bicycle accident, contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling 713-396-3964 or toll free at 800-594-4884.