Bicycle Traffic Laws and Safety Tips for Texas Cyclists
Many Texans enjoy riding a bicycle; it can be a great way to explore. There are also a significant number of Texans who depend on their bicycle to get them to work and home again, around town running errands, and to school or other events. According to Texas state law, bicycles are considered vehicles when on a Texas roadway, so regardless of why you take your bike out on the road, make sure you’re aware of the bicycle traffic laws and how to stay safe as a Texas cyclist.
Texas Bicycle Traffic Laws:
While this is not an all-inclusive list, we’ll run through some of the major rules of the road for Texas cyclists as an overall summary and good place to start.
1. Ride on the Right: The “ride on the right” rule does not mean Texas cyclists should hug the curb or the edge of the road; just ride as far to the right as possible while being practical. Riding too far to the right would be a danger due to debris, obstacles, etc.
2. Taking the Travel Lane: There are limited situations in which a bicyclist can take the travel lane, including when traveling the same speed as traffic, when passing a vehicle going the same direction, when preparing to turn left, to avoid a hazard, and when the lane is too narrow to share the lane.
3. Ride Single File: Riding single file is the safest, but cyclists on Texas roadways may ride two abreast if doing so does not impede the normal flow of traffic or when on a designated bikeway.
4. Use Hand Signals: Cyclists should use proper hand signals when turning left or right, slowing or stopping. For turns, cyclists need to signal continuously at least 100 feet before turning, unless their hand is needed to maneuver their bicycle. For detailed descriptions of legal options for turning while cycling in Texas consider more detailed descriptions of a vehicular-style left turn, pedestrian-style left turn, and 90 degree or inverted left turn.
5. Right of Way: As a cyclist, never assume you have the right of way on the road. First and foremost, the top priority of a cyclist is to avoid a crash. According to Texas state law, when approaching a non-signalized intersection at the same time as another vehicle, the vehicle on the left yields the right of way to the vehicle on the right. Cyclists should not change lanes if doing so requires another vehicle to slow their speed. Cyclists should always yield to pedestrians.
6. Follow Road/Lane Markings: As a legal “vehicle,” bicycles are required to pay attention to pavement markings and choose the lane appropriate to their travel direction when directed to do so.
7. Roundabouts: Cyclists should take the lane when approaching a roundabout as vehicles entering the roundabout yield the right of way to vehicles already in the roundabout. Always proceed in a clock-wise direction even if turning left. All traffic yields to pedestrians in crosswalks.
Staying Safe on Texas Roads: Safety Tips for Cyclists
Since Texas bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of motorized vehicles, they can be ticketed/penalized for breaking traffic laws. Stay safe on the road by following traffic laws, but also, consider these helpful safety tips to avoid bicycle accidents that could cause injury.
- Wear your bike helmet.
- Wear appropriate clothing for the bike ride you are planning; when possible, try to wear bright clothing that is easily visible.
- Always obey traffic signs and signals.
- Never ride against traffic.
- Always be on the lookout for debris and road hazards.
- Use paved shoulders and bike lanes when they are available.
- Ride single file – it’s the safest way to share the road.
- During the early morning hours, in the evening or at night, use lights and reflectors.
- Make eye contact with drivers when possible, don’t assume they can see you or that they’re going to yield the right-of-way.
- Never “catch a ride” by attaching your bike to a moving vehicle or by holding onto something.
- Always keep at least one hand on the handlebars.
- Do not cycle while wearing headphones – they block out sounds that you may need to hear.
As a Texas cyclist, you must stay vigilant to keep yourself and the roadways safe. Expect the unexpected and stay aware of your surroundings at all times. As a legally recognized “driver” on the road, never admit fault or claim the blame for an accident without discussing your situation with an experienced and trusted local bike accident attorney.
If you are in an accident on the road in Texas, don’t hesitate to call the experienced team at Carrollton’s Hudson Law Firm, we put the “personal” back into personal injury law.