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Texas Bicycle Laws

Texas is one of the most dangerous states for bicyclists. In 2022, 91 cyclists lost their lives in fatal traffic accidents, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. This was a 1.11 percent increase from 2021. Texas has many laws in place to enhance the safety of vulnerable road users such as bicyclists and pedestrians.

Texas Bicycle Laws: The Texas Transportation Code

Texas’s bicycle laws are found in the Texas Transportation Code, Title 7: Vehicles and Traffic, Subtitle C: Rules of the Road, Chapter 551: Operation of Bicycles and Mopeds, Golf Carts, and Other Low-Powered Vehicles.

This law contains all the statutes relevant for people who navigate roadways on bicycles, which are defined as a “device that a person may ride that is capable of being ridden solely using human power and has two tandem wheels, at least one of which is more than 14 inches in diameter.”

Bicyclists Have the Same Rights and Responsibilities as Motor Vehicle Driver

Under Texas’s bicycle laws, bicyclists have all the same rights and duties as other vehicle operators (Section 551.101). While the law may alter specific rights and duties based on the nature of a bicycle compared to a car, the same general principles apply to both. Motorists must respect cyclists’ right to the road and cyclists are obligated to obey traffic laws.

Bicyclists in Texas must ride in the same direction as the flow of traffic on a public road. Section 551.103 states that a person operating a bicycle that is moving slower than other traffic should ride as near as practicable to the right side of the road, except when preparing to turn, passing another vehicle or navigating to avoid an unsafe condition of the roadway.

In general, bicyclists should ride in the same direction as existing traffic on a roadway, obey all applicable traffic signs and road rules, and yield the right-of-way to others when applicable. In turn, vehicle drivers should treat bicyclists as they would other motorists – with care, caution and respect.

Bicycle Operation Rules

Bicyclists are permitted to ride on sidewalks in Texas unless a city law states otherwise. Many cities have laws prohibiting bicycle riding on sidewalks in business districts and downtown areas where there is a large number of pedestrians. In Austin, riding a bicycle on a sidewalk is allowed as long as it is done in a “reasonable and prudent manner.”

Section 551.102 of the Texas Transportation Code states: “A person operating a bicycle shall ride only on or astride a permanent and regular seat attached to the bicycle.” If a bicyclist wishes to ride with a passenger, the bicycle must be designed or equipped to carry another person. In addition, a bicyclist may not use the bicycle to carry an object that interferes with the operation of the bike with at least one hand on the handlebars.

Bicycle Helmet Law

Bicycle helmets are proven to significantly reduce the risk of head and brain injuries in a bicycle accident. Texas does not have a universal or statewide bicycle helmet law. However, cities or municipalities in Texas can enforce their own bicycle helmet requirements. Bicyclists are responsible for checking the laws in their city and wearing a helmet, if necessary. The City of Austin Code requires children ages 17 and under to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle.

Required Bicycle Equipment

All bicycles in Texas must have the required equipment before they may be ridden on public roadways. Section 551.104 of state law lists “a brake capable of making a braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement” as a required type of bicycle safety equipment.

If ridden at nighttime, a lamp on the front of the bicycle is required. It must emit a white light that is visible from a distance of at least 500 feet from the front of the bicycle. A red reflector that is visible from a distance of 50 to 300 feet or a lamp that emits a red light that is visible from 500 feet to the rear of the bike is also required.

Since bicycles are not required to have turn signals, bicyclists in Texas are expected to use hand signals to show their intent to stop or turn. The correct signals are to extend the left hand and arm downward for “stop,” extend the left hand and arm horizontally for “left turn,” and extend the left hand and arm upward or right hand and arm horizontally for “right turn.”

Bicycle Accident Laws

Texas is a fault-based car insurance state. This means that after motor vehicle collisions, the person or party at fault for the crash is responsible for paying for a victim’s medical bills and property repairs. In the State of Texas, drivers are legally required to carry a minimum of $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident in bodily injury liability insurance, plus $25,000 in property damage liability coverage.

After a bicycle accident, the injured bicyclist would file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier. The bicyclist is responsible for proving that the driver is at fault for the collision. In a no-fault state, on the other hand, injured bicyclists would seek coverage from their own personal injury protection (PIP) insurance without needing to prove another driver is at fault.

If the driver does not have insurance, the cyclist can use his or her own auto insurance for coverage. PIP insurance or Medical Payment insurance can cover accident-related injury costs. If the bicyclist does not have auto insurance, medical bills may be covered by health insurance. It may also be possible to hold a third party financially responsible for a bicycle accident in Texas, such as the manufacturer of a defective bicycle part or the government in charge of road maintenance.

Injured in a Bicycle Accident in Texas? Contact an Attorney at FVF Law

Unfortunately, there will always be drivers in Texas who break the state’s bicycle laws and endanger the lives of vulnerable cyclists. If you get injured in a bike accident in Austin, contact the Austin bicycle accident lawyers at FVF Law to request a free consultation. We will listen to your accident story and educate you on your legal options. whether your case has merit. We can help you determine if you are eligible for compensation for your losses using personalized legal services. Call us at (512) 865-4817 or reach out to us online.

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Fogelman & Von Flatern is a personal injury law firm that believes it matters why we practice law: to make sure good people in unfair circumstances who want reasonable options are taken seriously, especially by their attorney. We value transparency, compassion, and justice, and we strive to embody that in our practice. At FVF, you can trust that you've got the best people on your case, for the right reasons.

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