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Serious injuries to cyclists can be reduced by safe passing laws

Texas is experiencing growing numbers of accidents involving bicycle riders on the state's highways. Some experts recommend the passage of a safe passing law that will regulate how motorized vehicles treat cyclists and will promote safe sharing of roadways with cyclists. The most recent incident in the state resulted in the death on Sept. 10 of a 19-year-old man who was struck by a vehicle on a road in Mercedes. A woman was killed and another suffered serious injuries from a motor vehicle collision a few weeks before that on a road outside of Harlingen.

The result of these incidents is to place a damper on the desire of many bicycle riders to venture onto the public roads. That is not a welcome trend in light of the fact that bicycle riding is touted as a healthy alternative to motor vehicles and their dangerous emissions. The Southwest area of the country has at least partly embraced the development of various networks of bike and hike trails.

Many communities across the Rio Grande Valley have a goal of connecting their bike networks with others to form some day a continuous path throughout the region. The flat terrain, sunny weather and natural sites provide an ideal area for development of cyclist trails. The problem between an environmentally friendly travel vehicle such as a bicycle and the vast majority of  motorized polluters creates a definite safety hazard for bicycle riders.

The problem also affects pedestrians, persons with disabled vehicles on the roadway, highway workers and others in Texas and nationwide.  When a car or truck hits a cyclist or other victim on the road ahead, the operator of the motor vehicle is often liable for damages for serious injuries to accident victims or to the estates of those who are killed. The act of hitting someone on the roadway is often negligent due to distraction, speeding, reckless driving or not keeping a safe lookout ahead. The state legislature may consider protective safe passing laws when it next convenes.

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