APD looks to start bike safety initiative - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

APD looks to start bike safety initiative

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2012 was a deadly year for cyclists in Austin. Looking forward, members of the growing cycling community are hoping for a safer year on the roads.

As Austin continues to grow, so does its cycling community.

But when it comes to sharing the road cyclists say there's room for improvement by motorists.

"We're also a vehicle on the road," cyclist Kate Sherwin said.

Every time Diane Shelton and Kate Sherwin hit the streets of Austin, safety is priority number one.

"Any time there's a collision between a cyclist and a motorist, we lose," Shelton said.

Sherwin was hit by a motorcycle herself in 2009.

"They tried to stop but it was too late. They rear-ended me. Both us ended up going to the hospital," Sherwin said.

Sherwin says she feels lucky, and is now the president of Austin Flyer's Women's Cycling Club. She preaches safety, but there's still always a risk on the roads.

"Every year we have one member who is injured pretty seriously," said Sherwin.

Even with added safety features, like more bike lanes, three cyclists were killed by motorists on the streets of Austin last year, compared to one in 2011.

"When you compare it with the number of cyclists in Austin, it seems like it's doing pretty good. You know no one on a bike needs to die," Sherwin said.

APD is looking at possibly doing a program, similar to one in San Antonio, where officers in unmarked cars follow plain clothed officers on bikes, watching the vehicles around them, looking for any violations.

"It's real hard to enforce those laws because obviously we have to see it to enforce it," Lt. Jason Newsom of APD's Highway Enforcement Unit said.

It's a new way to give some peace mind, for those hoping for a safer new year.

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