10 Important Bicycle Laws in Texas

It is important for bicyclists to know the law. State laws regarding cyclists vary, so it is important to know the laws where you live and ride. Texas has a number of laws concerning bicyclists. 

The Texas Transportation Code, Chapters 551 and 545, has a number of sections that pertain to bicycles. Here are 10 of the most important laws to know when riding a bicycle in Texas.

Bicyclists Are Bound By the Same Laws That Govern Vehicular Traffic

Bicycles are considered to be vehicles under the law and as such, bicyclists are bound by the same laws that govern vehicular traffic. That means that a cyclist must stop at all stop signs and stop lights. Failure to do so can mean a traffic ticket. “Idaho” stops, where a cyclist treats a stop sign as a yield sign, are not allowed in Texas. (Tex. Transp. Code Ann. §551.101)

Travel in the Same Direction as Traffic and Ride to the Right

Since a bike is a vehicle, it must travel in the same direction as the traffic in that lane. A cyclist is required to ride to the right, near the curb. There are exceptions to this general rule. A cyclist may ride in the vehicular lane needed for safety. 

Additionally, a cyclist may ride in the lane when the cyclist is passing another vehicle as long as the vehicle is moving in the same direction. This must be done from the left and in a safe manner. (Tex. Transp. Code Ann. §545.053)

A cyclist may also move into the lane to turn in preparation to make a left-hand turn.  

Sometimes a rider must move into the lane to avoid obstacles such as parked or moving objects, pedestrians, debris, and the like. This is permissible under Texas law. A cyclist is also allowed to ride in the lane when the lane is narrow and there is insufficient room for a vehicle and bike to travel safely side by side on the roadway.

 When You Can Ride Two Abreast

This is allowed as long as it is safe to do so and does not impede vehicular traffic. Cyclists may not ride more than two abreast unless the road is designated exclusively for  bicycle use. (Tex. Transp. Code Ann. §551.103c)

Nighttime Riders Require Special Equipment

It is prohibited to ride a bicycle at night unless the bicycle is equipped with both a headlamp and either a red reflector or red lamp. 

The lamp’s light must be visible for at least 500 feet in front of the bike. If the bike has a rear red reflector, that reflector must be visible for 300 feet behind the bike. 

If a red lamp is used instead, it must be visible for at least 500 feet behind the bike. (Tex. Transp. Code Ann. §551.104b)

Sidewalks and Bike Lanes

Texas has no laws either requiring or prohibiting a cyclist from riding in either a bike lane or the sidewalk. The only law that Texas has regarding where to ride the law that requires a cyclist to ride to the right of vehicular traffic, traveling in the same direction as that traffic. Local city laws may prohibit riding on a sidewalk. This is especially true in high pedestrian areas.

Hand Signals Are Required

Texas law requires a bicyclist to use standard hand signals for stops, left turns, and right turns. These signals are as follows:

To stop: The left arm and hand points downward,

To turn left: Point the left arm and hand out to the left horizontally,

To turn right: Either point the left arm and hand upward or point the right arm and hand out to the right horizontally. (Tex. Transp. Code Ann. §545.107)

One Rider Per Bike

Texas law prohibits having more than one rider per saddle seat. That means that riders may not share their bike with another rider riding on the handlebars or on any other part of the bike. (Tex. Transp. Code Ann. §551.102a)

Helmets Suggested, But Not Always Required

Helmets, while always a good idea, are not required by law in Texas. However, municipalities may require helmets even if state law does not. So, one should check local laws on this issue.

Electric Bikes Are Allowed

Electric bikes are allowed on the roadway and must adhere to the other rules that pertain to cyclists. However, any electric bike may not travel more than 20 mph by virtue of the motor alone or weigh more than 100 lbs. (Tex. Transp. Code Ann. §541.201)

Hands-on the Handlebars

Texas law requires that a cyclist have at least one hand on the handlebars at all times. That means that a cyclist may not carry anything in their hands while riding that interferes with their ability to do so. (Tex. Transp. Code Ann. §551.102c)

This list is not exhaustive, but it does cover basics. Should you have more questions, or have concerns regarding a bicycle accident, make sure to bring your questions or concerns to an experienced personal injury lawyer in Texas. Bicycle laws change over time. Make sure to stay current on the laws and on your responsibilities as a rider.