How to share the road with bicycles in Dallas. Under Texas law, bicycles are considered vehicles. This means that all rules and signs that apply to a roadway vehicle also apply to a bicycle and car, truck, electric bicycle, electric scooter, and any other non-motorized vehicle. It also means that cyclists must follow traffic rules as they ride on the road and that motorists need to follow certain rules to safely share the road with cyclists to avoid causing a bicycle accident or even bicyclist fatality.
Laws concerning both cyclists and motorists exist to improve cyclists' safety and everyone else using the road. Whether you're a cyclist looking for rules of the road or a motorist who wants to learn the rules for sharing the road with bicycles, follow this guide to stay safe and avoid becoming another bicycle statistic. Motorists must understand the comprehensive bike rules that apply to cyclists and vice-versa so that everyone can share the road appropriately.
Bicycle Awareness Basics in Dallas
While there are some more complicated and detailed rules that all cyclists and motor vehicle drivers should learn and remember, there's a simple list of basic rules that apply to all persons operating bicycles on the road in Dallas. Prepare a Dallas bike plan and stay out of trouble by following these cyclist etiquette rules.
- Always wear brightly-colored clothing and a bike helmet
- Don't listen to music with headphones while riding
- Use a bell or horn to alert others of your presence whenever necessary
- When riding a bicycle at nighttime, use a white headlight and red rear light
- Ride in a straight line
- Ride in the street and avoid sidewalks
- Use marked bike lanes or paths when available, except when making turns or in unsafe conditions. Since bicycling is permitted on all streets throughout Dallas, cyclists have the right to ride in the middle of the travel lane on narrow roads or where there's no designated bike route or bike trail
- Ride with traffic, not against it
- Stop at red lights and stop signs
- Before changing lanes or making a turn, look, signal, and look again
- Watch out for car doors opening in your path by leaving at least three feet between parked cars and your bicycle
These are the most basic and simple rules regarding safety for cyclists in the city of Dallas-Fort Worth. Read on for more detailed rules of the road.
Rules of the Road for Cyclists
In addition to the list of bicycle rules outlined above, cyclists have their own set of traffic laws that they must obey when riding a bike in traffic. These bicycle safety tips can help cyclists and motor vehicle operators avoid a bicycle accident or, worse, a bicycle crash fatality.
Using Hand Signals
A vital bike lesson to understand before riding with other traffic is hand signals. As most bicycles don't have brake lights or blinkers, using an arm signal is an essential bicycle safety tip to follow when expressing an intent to either stop, turn right, or turn left.
- To stop, extend the left arm and point the hand downward
- To turn right, either extend the right arm and hold it out horizontally or extend the left hand and point the hand upward
- To indicate a left turn signal, extend the left arm and hold it out horizontally
Using the Full Lane of Travel
In addition to turn signals, there are specific rules governing where a cyclist can ride their bike. The laws in Texas state that when a bicycle is traveling on a public road, it needs to ride as close to the right curb or edge of the roadway as possible. There are a few instances in which a bicycle can use the entire marked traffic lane:
- When passing another vehicle that's moving in the same direction
- When preparing to turn left at an intersection or onto a private road or driveway
- If conditions are unsafe for riding at the edge of the road
- If the road is too narrow (less than 14 feet wide) for a motor vehicle and bicycle to travel side-by-side and doesn't have a designated bicycle lane adjacent
- When riding on a one-way roadway that has two or more traffic lanes - in such cases, the bicycle should ride as closely as possible to the left curb or edge of the roadway
It's also important to note that while motor vehicles must stay out of bike lanes, cyclists aren't required to stay in the bike lane.
Since bicycles are considered vehicles, like cars and other motor vehicles, they should stay off the sidewalks and only ride on streets and roadways. They also need to follow the same right-of-way rules at intersections to avoid collisions with motor vehicles.
Bicycles can ride side-by-side as long as it's not impeding traffic. Both cyclists must stay in a single lane. It's never okay for more than two bicycles to ride abreast unless riding on a trail, bike path, or road that's for bikes only.
The law in Texas requires that all bicycles be equipped with lights when riding at night. Every bike must contain a front headlamp with a white light that can be seen from at least 500 feet and a red reflector or lamp on the back that can be seen from at least 500 feet.
How Cyclists Can Avoid Accidents
Sharing the road safely with motor vehicles isn't always easy. They're larger, travel faster, and aren't always operated by the most aware or responsible people. In addition to following all of the traffic rules and other rules outlined above, the best thing a cyclist can do to avoid a bicycle crash is to make sure to be aware of their surroundings at all times.
Never listen to music or talk on the phone while riding. It's essential to hear everything that's going on around you when you're riding a bike. Using all of your senses will help you be able to react faster in a potential accident scenario.
When you're going through an intersection or need to make a left turn, always be aware of the other vehicles involved. Establish eye contact with drivers and use body language and turn signals to communicate your intentions.
A bicycle operator can avoid a bicycle crash by simply being aware of their surroundings.
Rules of the Road for Motorists
Now that you have a clear understanding of the rules that cyclists are expected to follow on the road, it's time to understand the rules that motorists are expected to follow regarding sharing the road with bicycles.
Usually, motor vehicles travel faster than bicycles on the road, so one of the most critical sets of bicycle safety rules you need to know as a driver is how to pass a cyclist safely and correctly:
- Pass on the left
- Leave at least three feet between your car and the bicycle
- Before passing a cyclist, wait until the marked traffic lane to your left is clear
- Always check blind spots for cyclists
- Be especially aware of your surroundings at crosswalks
- When turning, a cyclist has the right of way, so look out for them when you need to take a turn
Sharing an Intersection
The rules of sharing an intersection are another set of rules that you need to understand to avoid a bicycle accident. Cyclists at an intersection have the right to use the left turn lane when turning left, so be aware of that when the light changes or when it's your lane's turn to go. If a cyclist is going straight or turning right, they'll typically be on the right side of the vehicles, so look out for them, especially in blind spots.
Respect the Bike Lane
Another important bicycle safety rule you should understand as a driver is to respect the bike lane's location. Cyclists must respect the lanes of the road, so they expect that drivers would also respect the dedicated bike lane. Don't park in a bike lane or swerve onto a bike lane. Keep clear of them and respect them as you would another lane on the road because that's precisely what they are.
How Motorists Can Avoid Accidents
In addition to following the rules of the road, there are some things that every driver can do on their own to avoid causing a bicycle accident. Here are some of the best ways to prevent accidents when sharing the road with bicycles.
- Be patient
- Follow distracted driving laws
- Be aware of your surroundings at intersections
- Be careful when opening your car door while parked on the side of a road
- Pay extra attention to your surroundings when driving on a road that doesn't have a bike lane
If you or someone you know has been involved in a cycling accident that resulted in a bicycle personal injury, contact a knowledgeable bicycle accident attorney at Glenn Law. We have decades of experience defending both motorists and cyclists involved in collisions. Our expertise and personalized approach will get you the compensation you deserve.