New Bike Signals in Austin: Will They Reduce Accidents?

August 18, 2017 | By DJC Law Attorneys
New Bike Signals in Austin: Will They Reduce Accidents?

If you have been driving around Austin, you may have noticed some new traffic signals. The Austin Transportation Department has installed bicycle signal faces on a dozen signals in the area in an effort to reduce bicycle accidents. Some started operating in early August.

The new bike signals can be found at various intersections around the city, including Wilshire Boulevard/Aldrich Street and Airport Boulevard, 4th Street and Red River Street, Rio Grande Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard,  Rio Grande Street and W. 24th Street and North Lamar Boulevard and Morrow Street. There are also two signals on the Lance Armstrong Bikeway and five signals on 3rd Street.

What Are Bicycle Traffic Signals?

Bicycle traffic signals are lights that are shaped like bicycles. They are found on traffic lights at intersections along with the usual red, yellow and green lights.

Many cities are adopting these signals because bicyclists face numerous risks at intersections. If they enter an intersection on a yellow light, they might not have enough time to cross. These signals remedy this situation. Also, if a cyclist is going straight, bicycle signals can give bicyclists a bit of head start so they’re not competing with motorists.

Some bicycle signals are timed, while others are activated only when a bicyclist is in the intersection. While there are no standards for these signals just yet, bicyclists do have to obey the signals in order to prevent accidents.  

These signals may not seem commonplace yet, but they’re nothing new. They started popping up in the United States about five years ago. Besides Austin, large cities such as Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Seattle, Denver and Minneapolis have these signals in place. These signals are also common in countries such as Australia and Germany.

Benefits of Bicycle Traffic Signals

Bicycle traffic signals provide information for bicyclists by telling them when it is safe to go. This can be especially helpful when there are cars, trains and pedestrians to contend with at an intersection. Bicyclists are given priority so they get a head start and don’t have to compete with motor vehicles. Bicycle signals also protect bicyclists from the actions of motorists.

While using pedestrian signals for bicycles is an option, it’s not the best choice because pedestrians and bikes have different clearances. Bicycle signals are much safer and geared specifically toward bicyclists, who ride with the flow of traffic.

The signals are in place to improve safety and traffic flow for both bicyclists and motorists. A study is taking place to see if the 12 new bicycle signals in Austin have improved safety.

Bicycle accidents can be fatal, so it’s hopeful that the new bike signals will reduce accidents and keep bicyclists safe. However, even when safety precautions are taken, accidents unfortunately still happen.

If you have suffered serious injuries in a bicycle accident, contact DJC Law. Dan Christensen is a former prosecutor who is not afraid to take your case to trial, if needed. He can evaluate your case and help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Call him today at (512) 872-4834 to schedule a consultation.