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Austin cyclist riding on shoulder cited after being hit by car

An Austin cyclist is recovering from being hit by a car on N FM 620. After the accident he was cited by Austin Police for riding on the shoulder. (CBS Austin)

An Austin cyclist is recovering from being hit by a car on N FM 620. After the accident he was cited by Austin Police for riding on the shoulder.

On October 29th, Steven Todack said he had plans to ride his bike 100 miles. He said he only made it about a mile and half when he was struck by a car attempting to make a left into the parking lot of St. Thomas Catholic Church.

Todack suffered injuries to his shoulder that left his arm in a sling, and he broke his finger. He’s since had to take time off work to recover. A photo he shared with CBS Austin News showed a crack in his helmet that he was wearing when he was struck by the vehicle.

“I was in shock partially from the accident and then receiving a ticket on what I thought was legal to do,” said Todack.

Lenore Shefman, Todack’s attorney, said her client “was definitely improperly cited, the law is clear.”

The Texas Transportation Code (TRANSP § 545.058(c)(3) states bikes are exempted from the general prohibition against driving on shoulders.

“The party at fault is the party that fails to observe the rules of the road, fails to see what there is to be seen and negligently causes harms and losses to another,” said Shefman.

Brad Houston, a separate attorney who represents injured cyclists, and is not related to the case, said, “The investigating officer didn’t know the law in this case.”

He added that not only does the Texas Transportation Code allow cyclist to ride on the shoulder but the law also allows cyclists to ride in a traffic lane as long as they’re as close to the right of the lane as possible.

For many cyclists, riding in a traffic lane isn’t a safe decision, especially when the speed limit is moving at vehicle speed. In Todack’s case, the speed limit on the part of FM 620 where he was struck is 55 miles per hour.

“Common sense says you should ride in the shoulder. Most motorist go, ‘Please! Ride in the shoulder, don’t block the lane,'” said Houston.

CBS Austin news showed Austin Police officials Todack’s citation and asked if he was wrongly cited, the APD public information office said, “We encourage someone who believes they have been wrongly cited to go to court to fight for dismissal.”

Shefman said, “Chief Manley is very dedicated to making sure when his officers are unfamiliar with the code and write bad reports that the reports are corrected according to strict protocols.”

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