Jason Stephens | June 11, 2021 | Bicycle Accidents
Whether for exercise or leisure, many people love to ride bicycles. It can be an enjoyable activity for both individuals and families.
However, bicyclists should ride as safely as possible. Unlike other types of passenger vehicles, bicycles do not enclose the rider or provide many safety features.
Sadly, many cyclists suffer catastrophic injuries each year. Preventing accidents and following the relevant laws are vital for bicycle riders.
It is important to use safety gear and equipment when you’re riding a bicycle. This is especially true when you are sharing a road with cars, trucks, and other motor vehicles.
If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, it is critical to contact a personal injury attorney. You may have the right to pursue monetary compensation for the costs associated with your injuries.
In the following article, we will examine ten of the most important bicycle laws in Texas.
1. The Basics
The Texas laws that apply to bicyclists are detailed in the Texas Transportation Code. According to Texas Transportation Code § 551.101, all the rights and obligations that apply to motor vehicles also apply to bicycles.
When you are operating a bicycle on a Texas public roadway, you are the same as a motorist in the eyes of the law.
There can be exceptions that apply to bicyclists based on other Texas statutes. Exceptions can also be necessitated by the inherent differences between bicycles and motor vehicles.
2. Direction of Traffic
Bicyclists in Texas are required to ride in the same direction as the surrounding traffic. Lawmakers understand that this may be impossible in certain situations.
If a cyclist is unable to ride with the flow of traffic, they are legally allowed to walk their bike on the sidewalk.
3. Use the Right Side of the Roadway
Under normal circumstances, bicyclists will ride much slower than those who are in motor vehicles. When this is the case, a bicyclist must ride on the right side of the road, and they must stay close to the right shoulder.
In some instances, a bicyclist is legally permitted to ride in the lane with motor vehicles.
These instances include:
- While cyclists are riding as fast as the surrounding traffic
- While passing another bicyclist
- When preparing to make a left turn
- When necessary for maintaining the safety of themselves or others
In most circumstances, bicyclists should not ride on the shoulder. This is not technically part of the roadway.
4. Use Bike Lanes
Many Texas roadways include bicycle-specific lanes. These lanes are on the far-right side of public roads.
When they are available, cyclists should always use bike lanes. Riders should give appropriate hand signals when they plan to leave the bike lane.
Appropriate hand signals are defined as follows:
- Stop: Left hand extended with arm down
- Left Turn: Outstretched left hand with arm horizontally extended
- Right Turn: Outstretched right hand with arm horizontally extended
Hand signals help to communicate cyclists’ intentions which can help to prevent a bicycle accident.
5. Pedestrian Right of Way
According to Texas traffic laws, pedestrians are only permitted to cross roadways at designated crosswalks. However, many pedestrians choose to cross outside of the designated areas.
Bicyclists must do their best to ensure the safety of anyone walking along a street or crossing a road. This is true regardless of where a pedestrian chooses to cross the roadway.
This bicycle law dovetails with the last rule. In Texas, bicyclists must always yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk. Again, bicycles are considered to be the same as other vehicles under Texas state law.
Another important point is that cyclists are not prohibited from using crosswalks as bicycle paths. Cyclists may walk their bikes across.
But crosswalks are only intended for pedestrians, not for any type of vehicle. This includes bicycles.
7. Helmet Requirements
In Texas, any bicyclist who is under 18 years of age is required to wear an approved safety helmet. This statute is applicable the entire time the person is operating the bicycle.
Anyone who is over 18 years old is not required to wear a helmet. However, specific municipal regulations may require some adults to wear a bicycle helmet.
8. Ear Covering Regulations
When riding on a roadway, bicyclists are prohibited from covering both of their ears. For instance, cyclists are not allowed to wear earplugs or headphones.
This helps to ensure the safety of drivers, other cyclists, and pedestrians. When a bicyclist is unable to hear the sounds around them, they are more likely to cause an accident.
Relevant traffic sounds include car horns, sirens, and general vehicle noise.
9. Riding a Bicycle at Night
Riding a bicycle at night can be exhilarating. Unfortunately, because of low visibility, it can also be hazardous.
According to Texas law, a person is prohibited from riding a bicycle at night without meeting the following conditions:
Any cyclist riding at night must have a lamp attached to the front of the bicycle. The lamp is required to emit a white light that is visible from no less than 500 feet in front of the bike.
Red Lamp or Reflector
When a cyclist is operating a bicycle at night, the bike must be equipped with visibility features on the rear of the vehicle. Approved visibility measures include red lamps and red reflectors.
If the cyclist has a red reflector, it must be visible from 300 feet behind the bike. If the cyclist chooses a red lamp, it must be visible from at least 500 feet behind the bike.
10. Appropriate Size
In Texas, cyclists must only operate bicycles that are of appropriate size. It is rare for someone to ride a bike that does not fit them. Doing so is not only dangerous but also illegal. An appropriately sized bicycle is one that can be easily controlled by the cyclist.
The rider must also be able to place one foot flat on the ground while the bicycle is in an upright position.