As a bike rider in Texas, understanding the laws and rules that apply to you is your responsibility. Obeying Texas’ bicycle laws, as stated by the Texas Transportation Code, can keep you out of the path of motor vehicles and make your actions more predictable to drivers. Learning the Texas bicycle laws for 2021 can improve your safety and reduce your risk of getting into an accident.
Rules of the Road
In Texas, bicycles are treated much the same way as standard motor vehicles (Section 551.101). Bicyclists are subject to many of the same traffic laws and roadway rules as motor vehicle drivers. For example, a cyclist must travel in the same direction as motor vehicle traffic on the road. It is against the law to ride against traffic. A bicyclist should stay as close to the right-hand edge of the road as possible, except when avoiding a hazard or making a left-hand turn.
Bike riders may ride two abreast with one another in the same lane, as long as they do not impede traffic (551.103/551.103c). They cannot, however, ride abreast of a motor vehicle. If a motor vehicle driver wishes to pass a bicyclist, the driver must keep a safe distance from the biker when doing so (545.053). In general, bicyclists should use bicycle lanes when available. However, this is not a legal requirement. Cyclists can also ride on sidewalks under state law, although this is prohibited by municipal law in most major cities.
Bicyclists in Texas must obey all traffic signs and signals, including red lights and stop signs. They must also yield the right-of-way to vehicle and pedestrian traffic at intersections, when applicable. Under current Texas law, riding a bicycle under the influence of drugs or alcohol is not against the law. However, the cyclist could face legal liability for causing a bicycle accident while under the influence.
Bicyclist Requirements and Responsibilities
In addition to obeying most of the standard rules of the road that apply to motor vehicle drivers, bicyclists also have other responsibilities that are unique to them. For example, all cyclists should keep at least one hand on the handlebar for appropriate vehicle control, but two hands are optimal (551.102c). Cyclists should not carry anything that prevents them from keeping at least one hand on the handlebars. Bicyclists should also use hand and arm signals to tell surrounding drivers of their intentions to turn or stop (545.107).
Bicycle Equipment Requirements
A bicycle that is being operated on a public road must be equipped with a brake that is capable of stopping the bike on dry, level, clean pavement. If a bicycle is being used to ride at night, it must be equipped with a white light on the front of the bicycle that is visible for at least 500 feet, as well as a red reflector or light on the rear of the bicycle (551.104b). All bicycle riders or passengers must have their own saddles.
As of 2021, Texas does not have a universal helmet law. There is no state law that requires all bicycle riders to wear safety helmets. However, several cities in Texas have passed their own laws requiring helmets by children and/or adults. In Dallas, for example, cyclists under the age of 18 must wear helmets. Research the laws in your municipality.
Bicycle Safety Tips
Following all of the laws that apply to you as a bicyclist in Texas can reduce your risk of getting into a serious accident. Other tips for reducing your risk of a wreck include wearing brightly colored clothing or a reflective vest, being aware of your surroundings, not listening to music or talking on the phone while you ride, and stopping at all red lights and stop signs. Being a prudent and responsible bicyclist in Texas is the safe thing to do.