Texas boasts a college and university enrollment of nearly 1.5 million students– that’s a lot of learning going on! Many students choose to walk or ride a bike to class for reasons ranging from fun to affordability– and universities like it when you don’t bring a car on campus, too, because that helps with air quality and parking. But in the midst of all that low-cost fun, it’s easy to forget that while on a bike, you’re still subject to the laws governing traffic. Don’t ruin your day by winding up on the wrong side of the law– know your rights and responsiblities as an active transportation user before you roll to class.
Bicyclists have the same rights and duties of other vehicle operators (551.101):
You must stop at stop signs and red lights, and a bicycle has the same right to the road as a car.
Ride near the curb and go in the same direction as other traffic (551.103):
We recommend a 3-foot cushion between you and the curb to allow for road hazards like potholes or debris. A bicycle may use the full lane if the outside lane on the road is less than 14 feet wide, or if a car and bike cannot safely share the same lane. (Note: If you are on foot, you should walk in the opposite direction of traffic. Ride with traffic; walk against it.)
You may ride two abreast as long as you don’t impede traffic (551.103c):
In places where you can legally take the lane, you can legally ride two abreast. If the travel lane is wide enough for one bike and one car to share, it may be illegal to ride two abreast.
Use hand and arm signals (545.107):
Make clear signs with your full arm extension for turning, stopping, or changing lanes to let other road users know your intentions.
Bicycles must have a white light on the front and a red reflector or red light on the rear at night (551.104b):
Lights must be visible from 500 feet away. Legally, you must turn your lights on at the same time you’d turn on car lights, but for safety’s sake, it’s a good idea to have your lights on when the sun is low in the sky to make yourself more visible to drivers. You should also use your lights in rain, fog, or other conditions that make it difficult to see.
Keep at least one hand on the handlebars (two are safer) (551.102c).
One rider per saddle (551.102a).
Bicycles must be equipped with brakes that are capable of making the braked wheel skid (551.104a).
We have a PowerPoint presentation available about bicycle and pedestrian laws in Texas, plus lots of other good stuff to know if you’re using active transportation in college. Learn more at biketexas.org/cats.