Texas A&M has fairly comprehensive summary of Texas bicycle laws, but we’ve noticed people’s eyes tend to glaze over when they read exhaustive lists of rules. So, let’s just talk about the most important Texas bicycle laws in a way that will be easier to remember.
If you wouldn’t do it to a car, don’t do it to a bicycle. That includes turning in front of them, tailgating them, or passing them without enough space between your two vehicles. As Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Texas bicycle laws and regulations FAQ says, if “the cyclist adheres to all the discussed rules of the road and bicycle laws, bicycles are entitled to all rights of the road that apply to a motor vehicle, including access.”
Same goes for a cyclist who “takes the lane” by riding in the middle of the road. The Texas Transportation Code tells cyclists to ride “as near as practicable” to the right curb—but it also has plenty of exceptions. For example, they can ride on the left curb on a one-way street.
If you’re not a cyclist, don’t bother memorizing these exceptions, just focus on keeping everybody safe. You’re not going to win points by “being right” about when a cyclist should or shouldn’t ride in the middle, but you can avoid a tragedy by simply being mindful no matter what they’re doing.
Cyclists are supposed to use hand signals to indicate where they’re going. They can point left with their left arm, point right with their right arm, or put their left hand straight up to turn right. Cyclists don’t always follow these rules—often because they want to keep both hands on the handlebars—and that can frustrate drivers, but you’ll always be in the clear if you just give cyclists enough room and watch out for them like you would any other vehicle.
If you and a cyclist get to an intersection at the same time, who goes first? Simple: use the same rule as you would for cars. That’s the answer to almost every question you might have, just treat the cyclist like you would any other vehicle.
At Thompson Law, we know how it is as a cyclists. Some of us are cyclists, as well, and thus pay attention to Texas bicycle laws both personally and professionally. We can bleed our own disc brake fluid and we can do our own derailleur adjustments (we use GCN’s guide to indexing gears). Driving in the road is scary, and sometimes the cars seem out to get us.
The biggest debate we see is over sharing the lane (riding near the curb) versus taking the lane (riding in the middle). The Texas bicycle laws related to the transportation code says “a person operating a bicycle on a roadway who is moving slower than the other traffic on the roadway shall ride as near as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway,” but there’s a pretty big caveat to that. Notice what the full Section 441.103 says:
a person operating a bicycle on a roadway who is moving slower than the other traffic on the roadway shall ride as near as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway, unless:
(4) the person is operating a bicycle in an outside lane that is:
(A) less than 14 feet in width and does not have a designated bicycle lane adjacent to that lane; or
(B) too narrow for a bicycle and a motor vehicle to safely travel side by side.
That’s a big exception! Most of the roads in Texas don’t have a designated bicycle lane, and whether a road is “too narrow to safely travel side by side” is subjective.
TxDOT Guide to Safe Bicycling says, “when you move to the center of the lane, it establishes your position and prevents motorists from passing until there’s enough room. Be considerate of others.” We think that’s a pretty good guide: if you don’t think a car can pass you safely, then take the lane, which will help them understand they need to treat you like a vehicle. But don’t try to irritate drivers if you don’t need to for your own safety.
Similarly, if you want other drivers to treat you like a vehicle, then you need to act like a vehicle. That means using hand signals and following road signs. If you saw another car turn or change lanes without using their turn signals, you’d think it was rude and unsafe. Same with a car that rolls through a stop sign or red light. That’s how it looks to cars if you don’t use hand signals or you cruise through a stop.
BikeTexas has been running a “benchmark study” to figure out the baseline for cyclist and pedestrian safety, including already looking at Amarillo, Arlington, Austin, Brownsville, Carrollton, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Denton, El Paso, Fort Worth, Frisco, Garland, Grand Prairie, Irving, Laredo, Lewisville, Lubbock, McAllen, McKinney, Mesquite, New Braunfels, Plano, Richardson, San Antonio, San Marcos, and we encourage you to take a look if you’re interested. These will help you ensure you are compliant with Texas bicycle laws.
TxDOT also has interactive bikeway maps for the same areas. Like most cities, the bikeways are a patchwork, but, with a little bit of planning in advance, you can get almost anywhere. In the DFW area, there are more off-street bikeways in the McKinney, Plano, and Arlington areas, but paths can be planned anywhere.
For safety, the #1 and #2 things you can do is to wear a helmet and to avoid riding in the dark. The vast majority of bicycle deaths involve riders not wearing a helmet. Further, only a fraction of cyclists ride in the dark, but 50% of the bicycle crash fatalities in Texas occurred in the dark.
If you are asking yourself “When should I contact a personal injury lawyer after a bike accident,” the answer is NOW! Thompson Law’s bicycle accident lawyers offer FREE CASE REVIEWS, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
Further, we charge NO FEE unless we win. You will not incur any attorney fees, court costs, legal expenses, or any other costs unless we recover money on your behalf for your bike accident. If we do obtain a settlement for you, our fee will only come out of a portion of the settlement.
If you’ve been in a bicycle accident, contact us today for a free, confidential consultation regarding your accident and Texas bicycle laws.
The statute of limitations in Texas is 2 years in most injury accidents, such as a bike wreck. If you have been injured in a bike accident, call our experienced Texas bike accident lawyers today for a ZERO COST, NO-OBLIGATION CONSULTATION. The sooner you know your options, the faster you’ll be on the path to recovery. Call us today and take action to protect your right to a full value monetary recovery.
Thompson Law receives an attorney fee and you pay no legal fees as our client unless we pay you. Thompson Law has 350 years of combined experience in legal representation and has won over $1.8 billion dollars in cash settlements for our clients. We master the art of managing client cases with empathy, compassion, respect and, of course, prodigious skill. Contact us today for a free, risk-free consultation to discuss your accident and your options.
State law limits the time you have to file a claim after an auto accident. If you have been injured in an accident, call now to get the help you need.