What traffic laws apply to cyclists? What traffic laws do not?

Generally, bikes are entitled to all rights and obligated to all duties of the road that apply to a motor vehicle. 

Stop at red lights and stop signs

Pay attention to lane markers

Ride near the curb, traveling in the same direction as traffic

Use a light on the front and a red reflector or red light on the back of your bike while riding at night

• A person operating a bicycle, if moving slower than traffic, shall ride as near as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway.
By definition, “roadway” does not include the shoulder of the roadway.

• A person operating a bicycle shall ride only on or astride a permanent and regular seat attached to the bicycle.

• A person may not use a bicycle to carry more persons than the bicycle is designed or equipped to carry.

• A person operating a bicycle, coaster, sled or toy vehicle or using roller skates may not attach either the person or the bicycle, coaster, sled toy vehicle, or roller skates to a streetcar or vehicle on a roadway.

• A person operating a bicycle may not carry any object that prevents the operator from keeping a least one hand on the handlebars.

• 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 your left hand and turn your forearm downward at a 90-degree angle.
Left Turn – Extend your left hand and arm horizontally
Right Turn – Extend your left arm to the left and turn your forearm up at a 90-degree angle, or extend the right hand and arm horizontally.

• Every bike must be equipped with a brake capable of making a braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement.

• A person may not operate a bicycle at nighttime unless the bicycle is equipped with the following:

Headlamp – a lamp on the front of the bicycle that emits a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet in front of the bicycle.
Red Reflector/Red Lamp – A bicycle must be equipped with either a red reflector visible from a distance of 300 feet from the rear of the bicycle, or a red lamp visible from a distance of 500 feet from the rear of the bicycle.

When is it allowable for a cyclist to “take the lane,” and when is it not?

A person operating a bicycle on a roadway who is moving slower than the other traffic on the roadway shall ride as near as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway.

Under the following conditions bicyclists may take the full lane of travel:

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 wide and not having a designated bicycle lane adjacent to that lane) making if unsafe for a bicycle and a motor vehicle to safely travel side by side

Note: When on a one-way street, a bicyclist can ride to the far left instead of the far right.

Additionally, persons operating bicycles on a roadway may ride two abreast. Persons riding two abreast on a laned roadway shall ride in a single lane. Persons riding two abreast may not impede the normal and reasonable flow of traffic on the roadway. Also note, bicyclists can’t make passage of traffic “unreasonably inconvenient”.

TIPS for Bicyclist & Drivers

Tips for Bicyclists

  • Wear a properly fitted helmet to reduce the chances of head injury and death. (Some cities and counties require cyclists to wear helmets. Contact local law enforcement for more information.)
  • Always check brakes and tires before riding.
  • Make it easier for drivers to see you by wearing light colors or reflective clothing.

Tips for Drivers

  • Be on the lookout for cyclists on the highway, especially at intersections.
  • If you’re passing a bicyclist, move to another lane if possible and give them plenty of room.
  • Watch for riders who may need to maneuver around potholes and debris.

More resources:
TxDOT
Top 10 Tips for First Time Bicycle Commuters