STATE AND LOCAL LAWS PERTAINING TO THE OPERATION OF BICYCLES ON PUBLIC ROADWAYS
In the state of Texas a bicycle is considered equivalent to a motor vehicle and subject to the same laws that apply to motor vehicles, with a few exceptions where special rules apply to bicyclists. In most cases, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists and are subject to the same citations a motorist would receive for violating traffic laws. This means that cyclists should stop at all red lights and stop signs, signal when turning and stopping, yield right-of-way when law requires it – and by all means, NO SPEEDING! Most regular cyclists would agree with John Forester, author of “Effective Cycling” that cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles. As a general rule, you should not do anything that you would not do when you are driving your car. Make yourself as visible as possible and be predictable in your actions. Making eye contact with drivers of other vehicles can help you establish your position and communicate to them what your intentions are.
The following are excerpts of pertinent state and local laws pertaining to the operations of bicycles on public roadways. Remember – a cyclist is subject to all of the laws – these are just some of the portions of the code that are of particular interest to cyclists.
TEXAS TRANSPORTATION CODE
Section 545.058 Driving on Improved Shoulder
(A) An operator may drive on an improved shoulder to the right of the main traveled portion of a roadway if the operation is necessary and may be done safely, but only:
(1) to stop, stand, or park;
(2) to accelerate before entering the main traveled lane of traffic; (3) to decelerate before making a right turn;
(4) to pass another vehicle that is slowing or stopped on the main traveled portion of the highway, disabled, or preparing to make a left turn;
(5) to allow another vehicle traveling faster to pass;
(6) as permitted or required by an official traffic-control device or (7) to avoid a collision.
(B) An operator may drive on an improved shoulder to the left of the main traveled portion of a divided or limited access or controlled access highway if that operation may be done safely, but only:
(1) to slow or stop when the vehicle is disabled and traffic or other circumstances prohibit the safe movement of the vehicle to the right of the main traveled portion of the roadway; (2) as permitted or required by an official traffic control device, or; (3) to avoid a collision.
(C) A limitation in this section on driving on an improved shoulder does not apply to: (1) an authorized emergency vehicle responding to a call; (2) a police patrol, or; , (3) a bicycle.
Section 545.107 Method of Giving Hand and Arm Signals
An operator who is permitted to give a hand and arm signal shall give the signal from the left side of the vehicle as follows:
(1) to make a left turn signal, extend hand and arm horizontally;
(2) to make a right turn signal, extend hand and arm upward, except that a bicycle operator may signal from the right side of the vehicle with the hand and arm extended horizontally; and
(3) to stop or decrease speed, extend left hand and arm downward.
Section 551.102 General Operation
(A) A person operating a bicycle shall ride only on or astride a permanent and regular seat attached to the bicycle.
(B) A person may not use a bicycle to carry more persons than the bicycle is equipped to carry.
(C) A person operating a bicycle may not use his bicycle to carry an object that prevents the person from operating the bicycle with at least one hand on the handlebars of the bicycle.
(0) A person operating a bicycle, coaster, sled, or toy vehicle or using roller skates may not attach either the person or the bicycle, coaster, sled, toy vehicle, or roller skates to a streetcar or vehicle on a roadway.
Section 551.103 Operation on Roadway
(A) Except as provided by Subsection (8), a person operating a bicycle on a roadway who is moving slower than the other traffic on the roadway shall ride as near as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway, unless:
(1) the person is passing another vehicle moving in the same direction;
(2) the person is preparing to turn left at an intersection or into a private road or driveway; or
(3) a condition on or of the roadway, including a fixed or moving object, parked or moving vehicle, pedestrian, animal, surface hazard, or substandard width lane, prevents the person from safely riding next to the right curb or edge of the roadway.
(8) A person operating a bicycle on a one-way roadway with two or more marked traffic lanes may ride as near as practicable to the left curb or edge of roadway.
(C) Persons operating a bicycle on a roadway may ride two abreast. Persons riding two abreast on a laned roadway shall ride in a single lane. Persons riding two abreast may not impede the normal and reasonable flow of traffic on the roadway. Persons may not ride more than two abreast unless they are riding on a part of a roadway set aside for the exclusive operation of bicycles.
(0) In this section, “substandard width lane” means a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a motor vehicle to safely travel in the lane side by side.
Section 551.104 Safety Equipment
(A) A person may not operate a bicycle unless the bicycle is equipped with a brake capable of making a braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement.
(B) A person may not operate a bicycle at nighttime unless the bicycle is equipped with:
(1) a lamp on the front of the bicycle that emits a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet in front of the bicycle; and
(2) a red reflector on the rear of the bicycle that is:
(a) of a type approved by the department; and
(b) visible when directly in front of lawful upper beams of motor vehicle headlamps from all distances from 50 to 300 feet to the rear of the bicycle.
(C) In addition to the rear reflector required by Subsection (B), a person operating a bicycle at nighttime may use a lamp on the rear of the bicycle that emits a red light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear of the bicycle.
Section 551.105 Competitive Racing
(A) In this section, “bicycle” means a non motorized vehicle propelled by human power.
(B) A sponsoring organization may hold a competitive bicycle race on a public road only with the approval of the appropriate local law enforcement agencies.
(C) The local law enforcement agencies and the sponsoring organization may agree on safety regulations governing the movement of bicycles during a competitive race or during training for a competitive race, including the permission for bicycle operators to ride abreast.
CITY OF HOUSTON ORDINANCES
Sec. 45-301. Authority to prohibit riding on roadways.
The traffic engineer is authorized to erect signs on any roadway prohibiting the riding of bicycles thereon and, when such signs are in place, no person shall disobey the same.
Sec. 45-302. Riding on sidewalks.
(a) No person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk within a business district.
(b) The traffic engineer is authorized to erect signs on any sidewalk outside a business district prohibiting the riding of bicycles thereon by any person and, when such signs are in place, no person shall disobey the same.
(c) Whenever any person is riding a bicycle upon a sidewalk, such person shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and shall give audible signal before overtaking and passing any pedestrian.
(Code 1968, § 46-285)
Secs. 45-303–45-310. Reserved.
Sec. 45-325. Definitions.
In this division the following words and terms shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, unless the context of their usage clearly indicates another meaning:
Child means any person under 18 years of age.
Dealer means any commercial establishment that sells or leases new or used bicycles, whether as its principal business activity or in connection with the selling or leasing of other merchandise, from a place of business within the city.
Fund means the bicycle helmet fund created under section 45-329 of this Code.
Helmet means a properly fitted bicycle helmet that is not structurally damaged and that conformed to the standards of the American National Standards Institute, the American Society for Testing and Materials, the Snell Memorial Foundation or any federal agency having regulatory jurisdiction over bicycle helmets, as applicable, at the time of the manufacture of the helmet.
Parent means the natural or adoptive parent or court-appointed guardian or conservator of a child.
Public way means any property that is publicly owned or maintained, including, but not limited to, a “street or highway” as defined in section 45-2 of this Code, a publicly maintained trail, and any public parks facility.
Wearing a helmet means that the person has a helmet fastened securely to his head with the straps of the helmet securely tightened.(Ord. No. 95-813, § 1, 7-12-95)
Sec. 45-326. Helmet required.
(a) It is unlawful for any child to operate or ride upon a bicycle or any side car, trailer, child carrier, seat or other device attached to a bicycle unless the child is wearing a helmet.
(b) It is unlawful for a parent to suffer or permit a child under 14 years of age to operate or ride upon a bicycle or any side car, trailer, carrier, seat or other device attached to a bicycle unless the child is wearing a helmet.
(c) It is a defense to prosecution that the bicycle was not being operated upon a public way at the time of the alleged offense.
(d) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section, upon first offense only, that the person owns or has acquired a helmet prior to the court hearing and promises the court that the helmet will be used in the future.
(Ord. No. 95-813, § 1, 7-12-95)
Sec. 45-327. Sale or lease of bicycles by dealers.
(a) It shall be unlawful for any dealer to sell a bicycle, bicycle side car, trailer or child carrier without providing a written statement to the purchaser advising of the terms of this division. The statement shall be in a form promulgated by the chief of police. Upon request, the chief of police shall provide a sample of the required form to a dealer. However, printing of distribution copies shall be at the dealer’s expense.
(b) It shall be unlawful for any dealer to lease a bicycle to any person without providing a helmet for the use of each child who will operate or ride upon the bicycle or determining that each child who will operate or ride upon the bicycle has a helmet available. The dealer may impose an additional fee for use of the helmet if the dealer sells or leases a helmet to the bicycle lessee.
(Ord. No. 95-813, § 1, 7-12-95)
Sec. 45-328. Penalty.
(a) Any person who violates any provision of this division shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be fined an amount not exceeding $50.00 upon first conviction and an amount not exceeding $100.00 upon the second and each subsequent conviction.
(b) The purpose of this division is to encourage the use of helmets. In keeping with that purpose, the municipal courts are urged to consider deferred dispositions under article 45.54 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure whenever the circumstances warrant deferred dispositions. Conditions of the deferral may include that the defendant, if financially able, has obtained a helmet and has agreed to make a contribution in support of the fund.
(Ord. No. 95-813, § 1, 7-12-95)
Sec. 45-329. Bicycle helmet fund.
(a) The bicycle helmet fund is hereby created. The fund shall accept donations of helmets and money to be used for the purchase of helmets. All monetary gifts to the fund shall constitute a trust that shall be deposited in the city’s trust and agency account, which may be invested as provided in chapter 104 of the Texas Local Government Code.
(b) The fund shall be used exclusively for the purpose of providing bicycle helmets for the use of members of “very low income families” as defined in 24 Code of Federal Regulations, section 813.102, as computed for the city for purposes of section 8 of the United States Housing Act of 1937. The directors of the parks and recreation department and the health and human services department shall jointly administer the fund and shall promulgate rules and procedures for the distribution of helmets. Helmets shall be provided on a first-come-first-served basis to the extent of available supply.
(Ord. No. 95-813, § 1, 7-12-95)
Secs. 45-330–45-335. Reserved.
Cited from Houston Bicycle Club and Municode.com