Free cycling classes offered to reduce crashes, deaths on Austin roads

A cyclist rides in Austin (KXAN Photo)
A cyclist rides in Austin (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Starting in December, Bike Austin is offering free cycling classes for adult commuters and general cyclists thanks to a partnership with the Texas Department of Transportation.

The Austin Safe Cycling Education and Encouragement Project was created to reduce the number of bicyclist crashes and fatalities on Austin roads by increasing public information and education on the responsibilities of riders.

“We hear a lot from drivers, ‘Cyclists run red lights, cyclists run stop signs,’ and for some, that’s true,” said Preston Tyree, a volunteer with Bike Austin. “I’ve got great video of cyclists just blowing through stop signs.”

But Tyree says the discussion should not be about who is worse on the roads. “The discussion is how do we do it right? How do we all do it right?”

As Austin grows, so does the number of cyclists. According to the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey, only 0.2 percent of Texas residents bicycled to work in 2015. This proportion was over six times higher in Austin, at 1.3 percent, representing approximately 6,800 bicycle commuters.

More riders also means a higher probability of crashes.

“We have probably 300 crashes per year between bikes and cars,” Tyree said. “The statistics are pretty clear. Half of those crashes are the cyclist’s fault, half of those crashes are the motorist’s fault. This class gives us a chance to get to the cyclists.”

The classes consist of two-hour instruction talking about the rules and best safety practices for cyclists.

“Some riders say, ‘Wow, I gotta stop at stop signs?’ Yeah, you have to stop at stop signs,” Tyree said. “This class will help get rid of the myths, get rid of all the bad knowledge and get the rules out there and explain why they work.”

The classes will also cover proper bike and riding equipment and proper clothing. Once bicyclists complete the classroom portion, they will hop on a bike for a 2-mile guided loop through downtown Austin traffic to practice turns and sudden stops.

“We have to pay attention. We are responsible for our own safety, we can’t afford to be hit,” Tyree said.

The classes start in December and run through September 2018

Keep checking BikeAustin.org under “Learn” for upcoming class listings. If you are an employer and would like to schedule a City Cycling class for your commuters (cyclist and motorist) or if you are a commuter and would like to sign up for a class, please email education@bikeaustin.org for details.

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