Riding a bike for pleasure, exercise, or for transportation within your community is a healthy choice for the body and for the environment, but if you aren’t familiar with important bike laws in Texas, you could suffer a bike injury.
Riding a bike in Texas requires cyclists to follow the same traffic laws with the same rights and duties as motor vehicles, including stopping at stop signs, and traffic lights, and traveling in the same direction as traffic when riding on a roadway while staying as close to the curb as possible if moving substantially slower than traffic.
As well as following the rules of the road, there are additional laws that pertain specifically to cyclists.
Bicycle Lane Laws in Texas
Bicycle laws in Texas apply to all non-motorized vehicles. While bicyclists must stay as close to the curb as possible when moving with traffic, the following exceptions allow bikes to occupy more space in the lane:
- When passing another bike, pedestrian, or slow-moving vehicle traveling in the same direction
- When making a left turn such as at an intersection or into a driveway
- When there are hazards in the roadway including potholes, animals, or road construction debris
- When the lane is of narrow, non-standard size and there is insufficient room for motorists and bicycles to safely occupy the same lane
- Bicyclists may ride two abreast in lanes with ample road space as long as they don’t impede traffic flow
Bike-Specific Laws to Learn in Texas
Besides understanding when a bicycle is subject to the same road rules as a motor vehicle, bike riders must also familiarize themselves with bike-specific laws in Texas including the following:
- Riders must have at least one hand on the handlebars at all times
- Riders must ride on a regular, permanently attached bicycle seat
- Bicycles may only carry the number of people the bike is designed to carry and have seats to accommodate
- Bicyclists must not attach themselves to motor vehicles for towing
- Riders carrying packages must not carry more than they can safely handle while still keeping one hand on the handlebars at all times
- Bicycles must have working brakes
Most cities have local ordinances disallowing bike riders to use the sidewalks in Texas, while others may allow only child riders to use the sidewalks. Check within your local jurisdiction to learn the sidewalk laws in your area.
Bike Riding at Night in Texas
Riding a bicycle at night can be exhilarating, but dark roadways put bike riders at extra risk of injury. Texas has specific requirements for cycling after dark:
- The bike must be equipped with a headlight that casts light at least 500 feet ahead
- The bike must have a red light or red reflector on the back that’s visible from at least 300 feet behind the bike
Are Bike Helmets Required in Texas?
Texas is an exciting destination for cyclists. With hundreds of miles of coastline, flat topography, and scenic landscapes, it’s on many riders’ bucket lists. The year-round temperate climate and bike-friendly cities also make it possible to depend on cycling for daily short commutes to work, school, and destinations within a rider’s community. The unenclosed design of bikes leaves riders particularly vulnerable to injuries in an accident. Though Texas does not currently have bike helmet laws on the books, wearing a bike helmet is highly recommended by safety experts worldwide, including in Texas.