Most bike collisions go unreported on campus

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Students bike through the intersection of 24th and Speedway streets Tuesday morning. Intersections with dense vehicular traffic are prone to bicycle collisions, most of which go unreported on campus.

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

Two hundred ninety-eight bicycle collisions happened in Austin last year, according to statistics from the Austin Police Department, but UTPD crime prevention officer William Pieper said most bicycle accidents go unreported on campus.

Pieper said people involved in bike collisions on campus usually do not report them to UTPD. 

“It has been my experience that people tend to only report a bicycle accident to the police when there is an injury or major damage,” Pieper said. “Most bicycle accidents go unreported by the parties involved.”

Pieper said UTPD is only required to file crash reports with the Texas Department of Public Safety when a motor vehicle is involved. Collisions involving only pedestrians or cyclists are documented as incident reports, which is an internal report used to document criminal offenses or any incident requiring action by the police.

“Collisions between bicyclists and pedestrians, bicyclists and other bicyclists, or bicyclist and a fixed object are not required to be documented on a crash form,” Pieper said.  

Anna Sabana, APD public information manager, said APD reported 10 bicycle collisions in West Campus last year and a total of 298 collisions citywide. APD follows similar procedures to UTPD in reporting bicycle collisions, with a crash report only being required if a motor vehicle is involved.

Pieper said most bike crashes on campus occur in areas with heavy traffic or hills.

“I would state most [crashes] occur where there is dense traffic … like 24th and Speedway, and 21st and Speedway,” Pieper said. “I have seen other collisions where bicycle speed is a factor — the 23rd Street hill, the 24th Street hill and the 21st Street hill.”

According to data from the Texas Department of Transportation, the most common streets near campus where bicycle collisions occur are Guadalupe and Speedway streets, with a combined total of 102 crashes happening on the two streets over the past four years.

Most crashes happen because of a lack of attention on the path of a cyclist, pedestrian or driver, according to Pieper.

“Typically bicycle-involved collisions happen because one party fails to observe or yield right-of-way to another. Often times, a pedestrian steps in front of a bicyclist, or a bicyclist or motor vehicle fails to stop at a stop sign,” Pieper said. 

Pieper said UTPD has partnered with the University’s Parking and Transportation Services to work on bike safety presentations and initiatives. PTS offers free online classes to improve cyclists’ traffic safety skills. 

Mathematics junior Clarissa Rodriguez said she was involved in a crash on Speedway a few months ago but did not report it to UTPD. 

“I braked really hard behind someone, and I sort of rammed into their back tire,” Rodriguez said. “Nothing too bad happened.”

Rodriguez said she thinks cyclists often do not look where they’re going or ride too fast, which could contribute to collisions.

“I’d say people on bikes are usually not as safe as pedestrians, but it should be the other way around,” Rodriguez said.