Passing laws: Texas requires that in the event a motor vehicle passes a bicycle it shall leave a safe distance.
Helmet law: There is no state law in Texas that requires the operator of a bicycle to wear a helmet. However, although not required by law it is strongly recommended.
Laws to Protect the Bicyclist (Vulnerable User Laws): Texas does not currently have any vulnerable user laws enacted.
Distracted Driving Laws: As almost every bicyclist knows, distracted driving creates one of the most dangerous risks to a bicycle on a public road way. Every state has varying laws to attempt to reduce the amount of distracted driving that exists. Nonetheless, it still presents a serious problem.
In Texas there have been laws passed to attempt to reduce distracted driving by punishing violators. Here is a summary of the present laws:
- A driver of a motor vehicle who is under 18 years old may not operate a motor vehicle while using a wireless communications device;
- A driver of a motor vehicle who is under 17 years old who holds a restricted motorcycle license or moped license may not operate a motorcycle or moped while using a wireless communications device;
- A driver of a motor vehicle may not use a wireless communication device while operating a passenger bus with a minor passenger on the bus unless the passenger bus is stopped; and
- A driver of a motor vehicle may not use a wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle within a school crossing zone unless the vehicle is stopped; or the wireless communication device is used with a hands-free device.
Lane Position Laws for a Bicyclist (Where to Ride): Generally speaking Texas law requires the bicyclist to be as close to the right hand edge of the road as possible. However there are some important exceptions that I will outline below:
- When passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction;
- When preparing to take a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway;
- When reasonably necessary to avoid unsafe conditions such as riding in a lane that is too narrow; and
- When upon a one-way highway with two or more marked traffic lanes, in which case a bicyclist may ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of such roadway as practicable.
Sidewalk Riding: Texas does not have a law that either permits or prohibits riding on the sidewalk. In addition, Texas does not require a bicyclist to use any lane other than normal vehicular traffic lane. So, if there is a sidewalk, it would seem you can decide where to ride.
Riding a Bike under the Influence: Texas’s law prohibiting driving while under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances is written so that it applies to motor vehicles and therefore does not directly apply to bicyclists. However bicycles should not be operated while under the influence.
Stop Sign Laws: Texas bicyclists have to follow the same rules as motor vehicles regarding the requirement to come to a complete stop when directed to stop by traffic control devices and Texas does not authorize bicyclists to disobey traffic lights that fail to detect bicyclists.
Important Resources and Links