Dallas is a notorious car-centric city, but there are still thousands of enthusiasts who enjoy getting around this city on two-wheels.
While a seasoned cyclist likely will know the rules of the road, our Dallas bike accident attorneys are painfully aware that many drivers don’t understand the laws a biker must follow or the rights a cyclist has.
It’s important that everybody understands Dallas’ bike laws, and not just for legal purposes. Aside from the inconvenience of getting a traffic ticket, disobeying these road regulations can often mean the difference between a safe bike ride and one that ends in tragedy.
Data from the Texas Department of Transportation shows that between 2010 to 2016 there were 16,807 crashes in Texas involving bicycles, resulting in 9,769 injuries and 362 fatalities. And which county ranked in the top five for these accidents? Dallas.
In this article, we’ll look at six crucial Dallas bicycle laws that every motorist should know and explain what you should do if you are involved in an accident.
Law #1: Cyclists Have the Same Rights and Responsibilities as Drivers
According to Texas law, bicycles are considered vehicles with equal responsibilities and privileges as other vehicle operators. Any Dallas bike accident attorney would tell you that this means bike riders deserve the same respect as car drivers and that bicyclists can receive tickets (or be held liable for accidents) for failing to obey the rules of the road.
So, stopping at red lights, using turn signals, and yielding to pedestrians are rules every driver should obey—regardless of whether they have two wheels or four.
Law #2: Go With the Flow of Traffic And Stay Near the Right
Bicyclists are required to ride in the same direction as traffic on the road, and as far to the right curb as possible according to Texas Transportation code §551.103. This is because a bike rider is likely going slower than someone who’s driving a car, so it’s safer if faster vehicles have the majority of the lane.
However, lawmakers understand that it may be impossible to ride near the curb or edge of the roadway in certain situations. So, the law gives cyclists the right to take the full lane in the following events:
- If they need to avoid an obstacle or hazard
- When preparing to turn left at an intersection or onto a private driveway
- If they’re riding as fast as the surrounding traffic
- If they’re passing another vehicle moving in the same direction
- When there is not a designated bike lane and if the outside lane is of substandard width (less than 14 feet) making it too narrow for a bicycle and a motor vehicle to safely travel side by side
Note: Bicyclists are not allowed to ride on the shoulder, as this is technically not part of the roadway (Code §541.302).
Law #3: You Can Ride On Sidewalks (But Not in the Central Business District)
Sec 9-1 of the Dallas City Code permits sidewalk cycling almost everywhere in the city—with the exception of the central business district.
However, when you’re riding on the sidewalk, you must still observe the following rules:
- Yield to pedestrians
- Announce your presence from behind
- Obey traffic signs and signals
- And, travel at a safe speed
Law #4: Signals Are Required
Just like drivers who get behind the wheel of a car, bicyclists are required by law to signal their stops and directional changes to others on the road, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. Unless your bicycle is equipped with electric blinkers, this means you will need to use your hands and arms as signals.
To use your hands as proper road signals:
- Extend your left hand and turn your forearm downward at a 90-degree angle to indicate you want to stop.
- Extend your left hand and arm horizontally to indicate you want to turn left.
- Extend your left arm and turn your forearm up at a 90-degree angle to indicate you want to turn right.
- Alternatively, you can extend your right hand and arm horizontally to indicate you want to turn right.
Law #5: Helmets Are a Must For Anyone Under 18
Texas does not have a statewide helmet law. However, Sec 9-8 of the Dallas City Code states that anyone younger than the age of 18 must wear a helmet. So, if you’re taking your kids for a ride, make sure they don a snug helmet.
Law #6: You Need Lights For Night Rides
With less traffic, biking at night provides a wonderful opportunity for an evening joyride. But, there’s also less visibility, which makes it more dangerous.
If you want to bike at night, Texas law states that you must have a white light on the front of the bike and a red reflector on the back.
If You've Been Injured You Need to Consult With Experienced Dallas Bike Accident Attorneys
The ultimate goal of any roadway law—whether it’s a bike or car regulation—is to avoid accidents. Unfortunately, bike accidents do happen and the results can be catastrophic. Because of the lack of protection surrounding bicyclists, victims are often left with significant, lifelong injuries.
If you’ve been injured in a bike accident in Dallas, you need experienced legal guidance if you hope to be compensated for the full extent of your injuries and their continuing impact on your life.
Our Dallas bike accident attorneys at The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare can help you maximize the compensation you deserve to cover your medical bills, lost time at your job, and more.
Let us fight for justice by taking care of this process while you focus on healing and getting back to your bike as quickly as possible.