If you’re a cyclist in the Lone Star state, you must be aware of the laws that apply to you. Riding a bike is a great way to get around, and with more people taking up cycling, everyone must know the road rules. Understanding and obeying the rules and regulations will help you stay safe while riding and will also help keep cyclists’ rights protected.
The Texas Transportation Code classifies bicycles as vehicles, meaning you have all the rights and responsibilities as motor vehicle operators. You must obey all the traffic laws, signals, and regulations that apply to cars, trucks, and motorcycles. This includes riding with the flow of traffic, not against it. You must also use the appropriate hand signals when turning or stopping.
Some specific laws apply to cyclists in Texas. For example, you must ride as close to the right side of the road as possible unless you pass another vehicle, make a left turn, or to avoid hazards. This article will cover everything you need to know regarding riding a bicycle in Texas.
What Texas Classifies As A Bicycle?
Texas classifies a “bicycle” as a non-motorized vehicle propelled by human power. According to Statute § 551.002, an electric bike with a motor of fewer than 750 watts is classified as a bicycle. They fall into the following categories based on how fast it goes.
- Class 1: An electric bike with a pedal assist and motor that doesn’t go above 20 mph.
- Class 2: E-bikes equipped with a motor to propel a rider but doesn’t exceed 20 mph.
- Class 3: An electric bike with a motor that works when the rider pedals but doesn’t exceed 28 mph.
For the most part, the laws for electric and non-electric bicycles are the same. However, no person under 15 can operate a class 3 e-bike unless they are a passenger.
No matter what type of bike you’re riding, these laws will apply to you.
The bicycle laws are the same throughout the state. However, some local governments may have local ordinances that are more strict than state laws. Therefore, it’s always best to check with your local authorities to see if there are any additional regulations you need to follow.
Do Bicyclists Have to Obey Traffic Laws In Texas?
As a cyclist in Texas, you are required to abide by the signs, signals, and markings that apply to motor vehicles. In addition, bicyclists must ride in the same direction as traffic and as close to the right side of the road.
Failure to abide by the rules set Transportation Code can result in a citation.
The citations will vary from city to city. However, according to this forum, they can get expensive. These citation fees are from 2009 and apply to the city of Austin, so it’s likely the prices have increased.
- Riding the wrong way on a one-way street: $201 – $251
- Running a red light on a bicycle: $215 – $275
- No lights on a bicycle: $147 – $170
- Riding a bicycle on a sidewalk: $146 – $185
The first fee is the amount when paid on time. The second is the late fee.
Can You Get A DUI On A Bicycle In Texas?
Texas DUI statute does not apply to bicyclists, so you can’t get a DUI while riding your bike.
However, you can be cited for public intoxication (PI) if you’re caught riding while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Public intoxication is a Class C misdemeanor and can result in a fine of up to $500.
Riding around intoxicated is dangerous and is not worth the risk, even if you’re on two wheels.
Interstate Highways and Freeways
At the time of this writing, no federal laws or regulations prohibit bicycles or e-bikes on interstate highways or freeways. That said, riding on these roads is unsafe, and we do not recommend it.
If you must ride on an interstate highway or freeway, use extreme caution, ride in the shoulder area, and be aware of the high traffic speeds around you.
Where to Ride A Bicycle In Texas?
Texas doesn’t require bicyclists to use specific bike paths or lanes and are expected to share the road with pedestrians and vehicles. However, some cities have designated bike paths that make for a safer and more enjoyable ride.
In Austin, for example, over 50 miles of protected bike lanes are separated from vehicular traffic by a physical barrier. These paths were designed with cyclists in mind and are a great option if you’re looking for a safe place to ride.
If your city doesn’t have designated bike paths, you can ride on the road with vehicular traffic. When riding in traffic, ensure you abide by the following:
- Hand signals to indicate when you’re turning left, right, or stopping.
- Ride as close to the right side of the road as possible.
- Only pass vehicles going moving in the same direction as you.
- Ride in the same direction as other traffic.
- Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.
- Avoid parking your bicycle in vehicle parking spaces.
- Stay visible and assertive at all times.
In Texas, bicyclists have equal rights on the road as vehicular traffic. However, some cities have local ordinances prohibiting bicycles on sidewalks.
Licenses and Permits
Texas does not require non-motorized or e-bicyclists to possess licenses, permits, or registration of any kind to ride legally.
Does Texas Have A Bicycle Helmet Law?
Texas does not have a law making helmets mandatory. Therefore, it is legal for anyone of any age to operate a bicycle without the use of a helmet.
That said, many local municipalities have their own rules regarding bicycle helmets, so you’ll want to check before taking your bike out. For example, some of the cities that have passed a bicycle helmet ordinance in Texas are as follows:
- Houston: Children under 14 years of age must wear a helmet when riding a bicycle or are a passenger on a seat attached to a bicycle.
- Austin: Anyone under 17 years of age must wear a helmet when riding a bike on public property, including greenways, public parks, and sidewalks.
- Dallas: Had a law requiring all bicyclists to wear a helmet regardless of age. However, they were sued in a Federal court by a cyclist claiming it was unconstitutional, so they dropped the law.
Texas does not have a universal or statewide helmet law, unlike other states. So, depending on where you live, you’ll want to l check with your local authorities to see if any ordinances are in place.
Is It Illegal To Ride A Bike In Texas Without A Helmet?
No, unless you live in an area where the local ordinance states you must wear a helmet, it is not illegal to ride without one.
Even though there’s no law making helmets mandatory, it is still highly encouraged to wear one whenever you’re riding. Wearing a helmet can protect you from serious injury or death in the event of an accident, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Can You Ride A Bike At Night In Texas?
Texans are permitted to ride both pedal and e-bikes at night. However, the bike must have functional headlights, taillights, and reflectors when riding in the early morning or at night.
The front light must be white and emit at least 100-200 lumens. The rear light must be red and emit at least 100-200 lumens. If you’re cycling through an area that is harder to see, you’ll want to invest in a light with a higher lumen count.
It’s harder for drivers to see at night, so it’s essential to be as visible as possible when riding after dark. Wearing reflective clothing is also a good idea.
Can You Carry A Passenger On A Bicycle In Texas?
Yes, but you cannot carry more people on a bike than it is designed for. So, for example, if you’re riding a tandem bike, you can only carry two people.
Most bicycles are not designed to carry more than one person, so if you’re planning on carrying a passenger, you’ll need to invest in a bike that is made for it, such as a tandem or dual electric bike.
Can You Wear Headphones While Riding A Bicycle In Texas?
The state of Texas prohibits all bicyclists from covering both ears while riding. Wearing earplugs or earbuds in only one ear is allowed but is not recommended as it can impair your hearing and make it more difficult to hear traffic.
As a cyclist, it’s vital to be able to hear what’s going on around you at all times. Listening to music while riding a bike increases your chances of being involved in an accident.
If you want to listen to music or podcasts while riding, consider riding your bike in a park or on a trail with less traffic.
What To Do When You’re Involved In A Bicycle Accident?
Texas isn’t the best state for cyclists, and the state follows a 51% modified comparative fault rule. This means if you’re found partially at fault for the injury, the damages can be reduced.
However, you can still recover up to 50% of the damages, even if found negligent.
Unfortunately, many accidents are hit and run, where the driver leaves the scene, making it difficult to recover damages. But, if you’re on the road often enough, you’ll likely be involved in an accident. Here’s what to do.
- Call the police (if injured or a fatality is involved)
- File a Drivers Crash Report (CR-2) with TxDOT within 10 days of the accident
- Move the bicycle out of the roadway to avoid getting hit again.
- Stay at the scene until law enforcement arrives.
If you’ve been involved in a bicycle accident that wasn’t your fault, we recommend contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. They will help you navigate the legal process and ensure fair compensation for your injuries.
The right attorney can help file a claim so you can get compensated for the following:
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Damage to your bicycle
- Emotional distress
An experienced bicycle accident lawyer will also know how to deal with insurance companies and their adjusters. They will work to get you the maximum amount of compensation possible.
Bicyclists and e-bike users must abide by the same laws as motor vehicles in Texas. Failure to do so may result in a ticket or, worse, an accident.
Before hitting the road, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the laws and regulations.
The laws vary from state to state. So don’t expect the laws in Texas to be the same as those in California. In addition, the laws and policies can change over time, so be sure to stay up-to-date.
The best way to ensure you follow the law is to check with your city, county, state, and other local agencies for the most recent laws.
- Do You Need A Light On Your Bike Day and Night?
- Can Lights Be Too Bright On A bike?
- Bicycle Laws In Washington State
- Bicycle Laws In Oregon