Houston Bicycle Laws and Safety
February 13th, 2018
Riding a bike is a great way to exercise, travel and create lasting memories with your family and friends. For whatever the reason you may go bicycling, the law clearly states that bicycles on the roadway are considered vehicles with the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicles. Bicyclists are required to obey all traffic laws, including:
- Stopping at red lights and stop signs
- Staying within lane markers
- Travel in the same direction as traffic
- Use a front light and a rear reflector or light when riding at night or dawn
- Signaling when turning or stopping
Inspect Your Bike Before You Ride
For bicyclists, proper safety starts before ever getting on the road. You should always inspect your bike before riding to ensure all the parts are secure and working properly. Adjust the bicycle to fit your height. Your arms should reach the handlebars comfortably and your legs should bend slightly when fully extended.
Houston Ordinances Require Bicycle Helmets for Children
Wearing a properly fitted helmet is a vital aspect of safe bicycling because it is the best way to prevent severe brain damage or death. According to the City of Houston Bicycle Ordinance, “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” (Sec. 45-326). Children are defined in the ordinance as any person less than 18 years of age. In the State of Texas, minors are required to wear motorcycle helmets as well.
Cycling on Trails and Walkways
The Houston city ordinance also states, “No person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk within a business district” (Sec. 45-302). This is why it is important to understand the rights and responsibilities a bicycle has on the road. Houston has more than 300 miles of interconnected bike trials including:
- Buffalo Bayou Park
- Terry Hershey Park
- Memorial Park
Signaling Turns and Other Bike Maneuvers
Even if you are not bicycling on a roadway, it is always helpful to practice the appropriate signals and other safety measures when enjoying the outdoors. When turning, cyclists should hold their right arm out to the side when turning right, and their left arm out to the side when turning left. When stopping, cyclists should hold either arm straight down.
Unfortunately, even if the rider does everything right, operators of other vehicles may still fail to notice cyclists. Cars striking bicycles can be tragic. If you or a loved one is hit and injured by a car while riding your bike, you may be entitled to reimbursement for your harms and losses. Contact one of our bicycle accident attorneys to learn more about your rights. Our initial consultation is always free, call us today: 1-800-298-0111.
Other Considerations While Riding
Other safety precautions cyclists can take include wearing the appropriate clothing when riding. Avoid loose clothing or dangling laces and jewelry as they can impair one’s ability to ride properly. Stay alert when driving near parked cars because passengers will not always check before swinging the door open.
Cycling for More Than Fun
Want to ride for more than just the fun of it? There are several opportunities to use your riding skills to help others. Below are some of the opportunities in the area that you should consider being a part of:
BP MS 150
The BP MS 150 is a annual bike ride from Houston to Austin to raise funding and awareness for Multiple Sclerosis and the National MS Society. The 2018 ride is scheduled for April 28th and 29th. This bicycle ride is the largest in the United States, boasting over 13,000 riders. Riders join new or existing teams and ride to a midway point where they camp for the night before continuing on to Austin.
Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. is proud to sponsor Team Audrey’s Heroes for this event. If you have a passion for helping others, this is a great way to ride your bike to be a part of something bigger.
BikeHouston is the only nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of safe bikeways aimed at improving the overall quality of life for Houstonians. They partner with the City and other organizations to ensure cyclists are included in government funding, as well as educate surrounding communities on cyclists’ rights and responsibilities on the roadway.
According to the BikeHouston website, their advocacy efforts include “working with the Houston Police Department to gather information on the causes of crashes, enhance the enforcement of existing laws, and push the City to pass new laws that further protect road users, such as a no texting while driving law.”
The MS 150 Bike Ride and BikeHouston are both great opportunities to turn the sport you love into your personal mission.
Priyanka Kasnavia is an online marketing specialist who has been working at Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., for over a year. She graduated from Texas Christian University in 2017 with a degree in Strategic Communication and has been accepted to the University of Houston Law Center starting fall of 2018. Priyanka's expertise centers on search engine optimization and content creation.