by Tim O’Hare
Did you know that in Texas, bicycles are considered vehicles? Bicyclists must follow the same rules of the road as drivers of cars, with a few exceptions.
Cities around the state are adding bicycling lanes to accommodate cyclists on the roadways in an attempt to keep cyclists safe on the roads, but even where bicycle lanes are present, cyclists and other drivers should know the laws that apply in order to keep everyone on the roads safe.
Here is a summary of Texas laws pertaining to bicyclists:
• Cyclists must follow all rules of the road pertaining to other drivers (unless there is an exception), including stopping at stop signs and red lights.
• A cyclist should always ride in the same direction as other traffic.
• If moving slower than traffic, cyclists must ride as near as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway (not including the shoulder of the road).
• Cyclists may ride two abreast as long as they are not impeding traffic.
• A cyclist may not use a bicycle to carry more people than the bicycle is designed or equipped to carry.
• A cyclist may not attach to a streetcar or other vehicle on a roadway.
• A cyclist may not carry any object that prevents him/her from keeping at least one hand on the handlebars.
• Cyclists must use hand signals to signal their intent to stop, turn left, or turn right. To stop, extend the left hand and arm downward. To turn left, extend the left hand and arm horizontally. To turn right, extend the left hand and arm upward, or extend the right hand and arm horizontally.
• Every bike must be equipped with a brake capable of making a braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement.
• A cyclist may not ride at nighttime unless the bicycle is equipped with a headlamp and a red reflector or red lamp.
There is currently no statewide law requiring all cyclists to wear helmets, however there are local laws that apply to young riders in some cities. In Coppell and Southlake, all riders under 15 must wear a helmet. In Bedford, cyclists under 16 are required to wear a helmet. In Arlington, Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston, all bicyclists under 18 must wear a helmet.
The decision not to wear a helmet while riding a bike could be deadly. Helmet use has been estimated to reduce risk of head injury in an accident by as much as 85 percent. Even if the law does not require you to wear a helmet, it is always recommended.
For more information on laws regarding bicyclists, click here.
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