Sunday, July 13, 2014

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Bike safety in the spotlight

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TWC News: Bike safety in the spotlight
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Safety is on the minds of Hill Country bike riders and the Austin Police Department. A cyclist died Saturday afternoon on Loop 360 after getting hit by a suspected drunk driver.

Jeremy Wigley is charged with Intoxication Manslaughter. His bond is set at $100,000.

The incident sparked yet another debate on how to make roads safer for cyclists. Former Austin Mayor Bruce Todd is trying to get the city to pass a ordinance making helmets mandatory for all bike riders over 18.

Austin police say they are doing a much better job when it comes to protecting the city's cyclists. This year 109 traffic accidents involving bicycles were reported in Austin, significantly lower compared to last year when 226 bike riders got hit by cars.

Austin police credit the decrease through increased patrols and better public awareness. Travis County authorities say they may take things even further by putting patrol officers on bicycles because they believe bicyclists are violating the law – even more than drivers.

The county's recent research confirms many bicyclists fail to yield the right-of-way to motorists. Many riders also ignore stop signs and red lights.

Bicyclists say they see other riders taking chances.

"The worst offense is they won't have a light on the back of their bike. It just seems like they're having a little too much faith about the other drivers," bicyclist Chris Castle said.

Cyclists can get tickets from police too.

"It's also important for the bicyclists to understand that they, too, are part of the motor vehicle system and they have to abide by the same rules," APD Det. Ely Reyes said.

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