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#1 2011-03-04 11:36:03

From: Blackland
Registered: 2008-10-31
Posts: 36

UTPD Bicycle Safety Message

I get the UTPD "Campus Watch" email, which is a daily newsletter detailing some of the recent police calls. For the past few days, the email starts with some notes on motorist and cyclist safety. There are a few things in this that stick in my craw, so I thought I would post it here.

It starts with some reminders for motorists:

Vehicle Safety

Only practice and experience can make one a good driver.  Most highway crashes are due to the driver's inexperience or temperment. To become a good driver, one must follow several rules.

            Give driving your full attention. Dangerous distractions like texting, talking on your cell phone, or eating should be avoided.

            Learn to drive in different situations like night driving, highway driving or driving in bad weather.  We call this situational driving.

            Obey the traffic laws and the rules of the road.

            Relax and enjoy your trip.

It's nice that UTPD wants motorists to relax and enjoy themselves. Now here's the passage directed toward cyclists:

Bicycle Safety

The weather is turning warmer and more and more students / staff / faculty are deciding to ride their bicycles around campus.  As the gas prices continue to rise, this trend will increase.

With more cyclists on the road, I would like to take the time to remind everyone of some basic rules.  Bicyclists are required to follow the same laws as if they were operating a motor vehicle.  These laws are enforceable and can result in traffic citations being issued.

You can help avoid these citations and keep everyone safe by doing the following:
·         stopping at red lights and stop signs,
·         yield to pedestrians in the crosswalks
·         paying attention to lane markers,
·         riding near the curb, traveling in the same direction as traffic, and
·         having a light on the front and a red reflector or red light on the back of your bike while riding at night.
·         most areas of Austin ,as well as UT, bicycles are banned from riding on the sidewalks.

While I welcome the UTPD's acceptance of the growing popularity of cycling, I can't help but think UTPD singles out cyclists for enforcement here. I walk around campus quite a bit, and I think it would be great if UTPD were better about enforcing crosswalks and stops, but it's not the cyclists I'm worried about. There are a fair number of annoying brats on bikes that try to weave through crowds of pedestrians, but these road users don't scare me as much as the motorists plowing through stop signs on Speedway or through four-way reds on Dean Keeton.

Two of the items seemed problematic to me. First the advice to ride near the curb seems like very bad advice, particularly for new riders. The way this is written seems to suggest that it is unlawful to ride away from the curb. The last item seems flat-out wrong. It's not a good practice to ride on the sidewalk, but CoA only bars bikes from a few areas downtown and near UT. It is correct that bikes aren't permitted on UT sidewalks.

It's disappointing and frustrating that UTPD seems so unaware of cycling best practices and singles cyclists out as road hazards.


#2 2011-03-04 15:42:21

From: 78722
Registered: 2008-05-27
Posts: 288

Re: UTPD Bicycle Safety Message

Having served on the UT Bicycle Committee 2008-09 and spoken with UTPD Chief Dahlstrom (in 2009) on the subject of lane positioning, I can confirm that there is an institutional understanding at UTPD that people may _not_ use the full lane when operating a bicycle.  The important exception is on most UT campus streets, where the posted speed limit is 15 mph.  Both UTPD and PTS have indicated that bicyclists need not ride the road edge in these campus areas.

Perhaps UT Orange Bike Project orangebike at can raise this issue with UTPD?  If you are a UT student, staff, or faculty member, I suggest that you raise the issue with your appropriate council, e.g. Student Government.


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