Bicycle Safety

According to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), bicycles on the roadway are, by law, vehicles with the same rights, and responsibilities as motorized vehicles. NHTSA’s bicycle safety program focus is on research, education, and enforcement of bicyclists’ and motorists’ behavior to enhance roadway and bicycle safety and reduce bicycle injuries and fatalities in our nation.

In regards to Texas Motor Vehicle Laws, bicyclists using city streets during a ride must follow all traffic rules just like a motor vehicle. This includes stopping and yielding at signs, yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks and displaying proper illumination (front & back of bike). This also includes riding with the traffic flow on designated “one way” streets in designated bicycle lanes. Even Lance Armstrong couldn’t keep up with the flow of traffic in this state. And, using turn signals (hand signals…and, no, not the finger). Bicyclists must use hand signals to signal their intent to stop, turn left, or turn right. The bicyclist must use the following signals.

  • Stop – Extend the left hand and arm downward
  • Left Turn – Extend the left hand and arm horizontally
  • Right Turn – Extend the left hand and arm upward, or extend the right hand and arm horizontally

Again, a bicycle is a vehicle and a person operating a bicycle has the rights and duties applicable to a driver operating a vehicle. Bicyclists that do not follow street signs and laws are subject to the same penalties as a motor vehicle driver. If you ride a bicycle, you should check your own city’s bicycle laws as well as city ordinances on wearing a helmet. Know all bicycle rules and rights.

Here’s some additional information which is not only good for the bicyclist to know, but those driving around bicyclists as well. If a person operating a bicycle on a roadway is moving slower than the flow of traffic, they need to ride as near as possible to the right curb or edge of the roadway. However, there are exceptions to this law. Under the following conditions the law allows bicyclists to take the full lane of travel when:

  • The person is passing another vehicle moving in the same direction
  • The person is preparing to turn left at an intersection or onto a private road or driveway
  • When there are unsafe conditions on the roadway, including fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, pedestrians, animals, or surface hazards that prevents the person from safely riding next to the curb or edge of the roadway
  • The lane is of substandard width (less than 14 feet in width and not having a designated bicycle lane adjacent to that lane) making it unsafe for a bicycle and a motor vehicle to safely travel side by side

And persons operating bicycles on a roadway may ride two abreast, but they must share a single lane. They may not impede the normal flow of traffic and they may not ride more than two abreast unless they are riding on a part of a roadway set aside for the exclusive operation of bicycles. Unlike most people, I don’t mind getting stuck behind a group of bicyclists. Just laughing at those outfits make my day!

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer/ Comedienne/ Artist

Comedy Defensive Driving