Bicycling is one of the fastest-growing modes of transportation and one of the most dangerous, especially on public roadways. While cyclists have the same rights as drivers in Texas, there are still rules of the road to guide bicycle riders to avoid accidents and maintain responsible cycling. These laws are from the Texas Transporation Code, and it expects every bicycle rider to operate these statutes on public roadways. Whether on a leisurely ride or commuting to and from work, knowing the rules is vital to staying safe on the road.
BICYCLE TRAFFIC LAWS TO KNOW
- Bicycles should only be on roads, streets, and routes allowed for cycling.
- Do not ride a bicycle into its parking space. You should get off the bike upon arrival at the bicycle rack and walk it to the available space.
- In a mixed path, bicycle riders should ride through the road with caution and should always give a notable sign of passing to other individuals on the road.
- A bicycle rider moving slower than the flow of traffic is expected to ride close to the edge of the road. However, a cyclist can take a full travel lane when:
- The cyclist is moving alongside vehicular traffic.
- It is unsafe for the cyclist to ride close to the edge of the roadway.
- The travel lane is not standard, i.e., it has a width of fewer than 4.3 meters and no allotted lane for a bicycle.
- The cyclist wants to move to a driveway.
- Cyclists may ride two abreast on the roadway. However, they should ride in a single lane on a laned road and should not affect normal traffic on the road. Cyclists who might want to ride more than two abreast should do so on a lane allowed for bicycle riding.
- A cyclist should not carry more than the number of persons it was designed to carry.
- A cyclist should not carry an item that prevents the person from keeping at least one hand on the handle.
- A cyclist should not attach their bicycle to a vehicle on the roadway.
- A cyclist should use hand signals to indicate turns and stops.
- To turn left, cyclists should raise their left hand horizontally.
- To turn right, cyclists should raise their right hand horizontally.
- To stop, cyclists should extend their left hand downward.
- Every bicycle should be equipped with a very efficient brake.
- A cyclist may not ride at night unless their bike has a headlamp that can emit white light and red lamps on the front and back, respectively, and that is visible from at least 500 feet.
BICYCLE SAFETY ADVICE
GENERAL BICYCLE SAFETY
While there is no Texas helmet law, some cities and counties do require cyclists to wear helmets. It is always best to wear a properly fitted helmet to reduce the chance of injury or even death in case of an accident. Always plan your trip ahead of time to avoid any dangerous roads, and check your tires and breaks before leaving the house. Ride as far to the right as you can, and be on the lookout for vehicles making right turns.
RIDING AT NIGHT
Riding at night poses more risks for bicyclists, but you can take precautions to keep yourself safe when it is dark out. In addition to following the law and having lights on the front and back of your bike, wearing bright or reflective clothing while riding at night is another way to keep yourself safe when riding at night. This clothing will help drivers see you on the road and help prevent any accidents. When possible, try to take a route that has safe lighting to assist while riding in traffic and avoid road hazards.