Texas’ State Law Regarding bicyclists

The two-wheeled bicycle was invented in Germany, in 1817, and was named the German draisine. In the 1860s the term “bicycle” was coined in France which was described as the “penny-farthing,” and in the 19th Century, the term “Ordinary Bicycle” was commonplace.  Bicycles became the mode of transportation, competing, in part, with the horse and buggy.

J. Frank and Charles Duryea of Springfield, Massachusetts, were bicycle mechanics that, in 1893, designed and built the first American gasoline automobile that was popularized by Henry Ford who mass-produced the Model T in 1908, and with the cooperation of the founder of General Motors, William Durant, but the bicycle remained popular.  Over time, bicycles and automobiles were the primary forms of transportation.  In the early twentieth century,  bicycle owners needed protection from their dangerous cousin, the car.  City planners began to carve up the roads and the cities to accommodate bicycles, with bike lanes.  However, the distracted drivers of both the bicycles and the car many times ignored these lines, crashing into each other putting pedestrians lives in danger.

If you are in a bike accident with a car, there is a certainty of a serious injury including death.   As these collisions multiplied throughout the United States, it became clear that rules and regulations were necessary to keep bicycles and cars apart from each other.

In Texas bicyclists on the public highways are subject to commonsense cycling such as requiring hand signals,  cannot ride more than two abreast, each person on the bike must have seats and no riding on the handlebars.

The Texas State Transportation Code Statutes and local municipalities address many issues concerning the lawful use of the bicycle in such areas as:  Safe Passing Laws, Helmet Laws, Sidewalk Riding Bicycling Under the Influence,  Dooring law, Vulnerable Road User Laws, Treatment as a Vehicle,  Mandatory Use of Separated Facilities,  Distracted Driving Laws, and Where to Ride.

Texas permits in certain situations that local governments can pass ordinances regulating bicycle operation.  For instance, Texas currently does not have a mandatory helmet law.  However, municipalities/cities can enforce a helmet law.  Austin, Houston, and Ft. Worth mandate a helmet for children under 18.  Neither does Texas prohibit a bicyclist to operate the bicycle on the sidewalk.

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