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Full Use of Lane for Cyclists in Texas

Cyclists are considered vehicles and are allowed full use of a traffic lane. Riding to the far right where there is inadequate room for a vehicle or where debris or other dangerous conditions exist is not necessary. Cyclists are more likely to be seen in the center of a lane. Also, cyclists using the full lane are less likely to be hit when a larger vehicle attempts to pass on the left. Many crashes between autos, trucks, and cyclists occur when the motor vehicle attempts to pass the cyclist and clips the cyclist with a bumper or mirror. If there is no bike lane and it is perceived to be too dangerous to ride in the far right of the lane, you can use the full lane. See Texas Transportation Code Section 551.103 which states:

Sec. 551.103. OPERATION ON ROADWAY. (a) Except as provided by Subsection (b), 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, unless:

(1) the person is passing another vehicle moving in the same direction;

(2) the person is preparing to turn left at an intersection or onto a private road or driveway;

(3) a condition on or of the roadway, including a fixed or moving object, parked or moving vehicle, pedestrian, animal, or surface hazard prevents the person from safely riding next to the right curb or edge of the roadway; or

(4) the person is operating a bicycle in an outside lane that is:

(A) less than 14 feet in width and does not have a designated bicycle lane adjacent to that lane; or

(B) too narrow for a bicycle and a motor vehicle to safely travel side by side.

(b) A person operating a bicycle on a one-way roadway with two or more marked traffic lanes may ride as near as practicable to the left curb or edge of the roadway.

(c) 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. Persons 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.

Bike Advocacy Organizations

Being represented by a skilled bicycle accident attorney means you will be represented by someone who knows what it is like for cyclists on the road. As cyclists, we worry about getting “doored,” right-hooked, and our bicycle lanes just disappearing as we ride.

Please get involved by becoming a member of your local bicycle advocacy organizations. Bike Austin is working to make local changes for Austin riders. Bike Texas is working on a macro level to effectuate much needed changes throughout the State without a specific focus on one particular city.

As a community/constituency we can make Austin and the surrounding Central Texas Cycling Community stronger. We must build coalitions to do this, and by becoming a member of your local bike advocacy organization, we will grow our strength and voice.

How to avoid getting doored

When a driver swings open a car door without first properly checking for cyclists, serious bodily injury and even death can result for the bicyclist or motorcyclist. Riding within three feet of a car door can result in getting “doored”. Bicycle lanes create buffer zones between bicyclists and car doors, whereas streets without proper bicycle lanes often force bicycles to travel in the “door zone.” Not all cities create bike lanes equally, and many bike lanes still do not allow for a buffer zone between car doors and unsuspecting cyclists.

It is healthy for cyclists to try to maintain a four to five foot distance from opening car doors. This is not always possible, mostly due to traffic and road hazards. Further, most state, city, and municipal codes require cyclists and slower vehicles to stay as far right of traffic as possible. Cities that allow full use of the road usually carve out the exception of staying furthest right of the lane when there are dangers or hazards to avoid. Car doors can constitute a hazard. Most urban cyclists are familiar with this problem, but it is not always clear what a rider can do when in this situation. Where bikes are allowed full use of traffic lanes, moving closer to the center of the lane and away from cars parked on the shoulder can create a buffer zone for bicyclists. Cars will not always allow cyclists to utilize the full lane, and road rage can become an issue. Always do whatever you can to avoid angry drivers, including stopping and contacting the police with identifying information about any vehicle operated by aggressive drivers or drivers with road rage.

Most deaths from dooring crashes are the result of the cyclist being thrown into oncoming traffic by the door. If you or your loved one has been injured or killed by dooring, contact an experienced bike law attorney at Shefman Law aka Cyclistlaw.

Hit-and-Run Bike Crashes

If you have been injured in a hit-and-run bike crash, hit-and-run pedestrian crash, or hit-and-run motorcycle crash and you and/or witnesses can identify the vehicle or driver that hit you either directly or through circumstantial evidence, then you should contact CyclistLaw immediately about your case. Where there are no witnesses and you or your loved one was injured beyond the ability to recall the driver’s information, sometimes investigators can locate cameras that may have captured some or all of the crash.

Higher incidents of hit-and-run casualties and fatalities are being reported. Hit-and-run is the criminal act of crashing into another vehicle and failing to stop and identify oneself after the crash. Failure to stop and render aid is also a crime associated with this act. Failure to stop and render aid requires the driver to contact emergency services (in most jurisdictions 9-1-1). If the crash causes serious bodily injury to another and the driver of the vehicle leaves the scene, in most jurisdictions this is considered a felony.

Ideally, local authorities will thoroughly investigate and take proper legal action against a hit-and-run driver by revocation of the individual’s driver’s license, criminal charges resulting in jail time, and monetary fines. When convicted, that court record can be used as evidence in any future civil trial.

Hit-and-run drivers are attempting to shirk responsibility by fleeing the scene. Any identifying information about the vehicle should be preserved immediately and reported to the police. Contact Shefman Law for help with your case.

Shefman Law has successfully tried numerous serious hit-and-run injury crashes involving cyclists.

Austin Bicycle Law

Austin City Ordinance: Bicycle Traffic Regulations (Please check Austin Ordinance website for updates)

VEHICLE TRAFFIC RULES

A bicyclist shall comply with the requirements of this title imposed on a driver of a vehicle, to the extent that the requirements may be applied to operation of a bicycle.

§ 12-2-12 OBEDIENCE TO TRAFFIC-CONTROL DEVICES.

A bicyclist shall obey the instruction of official traffic signals, signs, and other traffic-control devices applicable to vehicles, unless otherwise directed by a police officer.

(B) Unless a bike lane is specifically designated otherwise, a bicyclist riding in a bike lane may not travel in the opposite direction of adjacent motor vehicles in the roadway.

(C) A bicyclist shall obey traffic signs that prohibit a right, left, or “U” turn, except when the bicyclist dismounts from the bicycle to make the turn. A bicyclist who dismounts shall obey regulations applicable to § 12-2-13 USE OF SIDEWALKS RESTRICTED.

 

(A) Except as provided in Subsection (B), a person may ride a bicycle on a sidewalk.

 

(B) A person may not ride a bicycle on a sidewalk on the following streets:

 

(1) 100 to 1100 blocks of Congress Avenue;

 

(2) 1900 to 2500 blocks of Guadalupe Street;

 

(3) 100 to 1100 blocks of Brazos Street;

 

(4) 200 to 1100 blocks of Colorado Street;

 

(5) from the 200 block of Second Street (West) to the 300 block of Second Street (East);

 

(6) from the 900 block of Fifth Street (West) to the 800 block of Fifth Street (East);

 

(7) from the 700 block of Sixth Street (East) to the 1000 block of Sixth Street (West);

 

(8) from the 100 block of Eighth Street (West) to the 200 block of Eighth Street (East);

 

(9) from the 100 block of Ninth Street (West) to the 200 block of Ninth Street (East);

 

(10) from the 200 block of 11th Street (West) to the 200 block of 11th Street (East); and

 

(11) from the 200 block of 15th Street (West) to the 200 block of 15th Street (East).

 

§ 12-2-14 EXITING FROM ALLEY, DRIVEWAY, OR BUILDING.

 

A bicyclist exiting from an alley, driveway, or building shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian on a sidewalk or sidewalk area, or to a vehicle on a roadway.

 

§ 12-2-15 PARKING.

 

(A) A person may not park a bicycle:

 

(1) in a manner that obstructs pedestrian or vehicle traffic; or

 

(2) in a space designated as a vehicle parking place or between two designated vehicle parking places.

 

(B) A person may not attach or secure a bicycle to public or private property in a manner that may damage, impair, or render the property unusable.

 

(C) A person may park a bicycle:

 

(1) against a street curb;

 

(2) in a bicycle rack on a sidewalk; or

 

(3) against a building.

 

§ 12-2-16 RIDING RESTRICTIONS.

 

(A) Except as otherwise directed by a traffic-control device or a police officer, a bicyclist shall ride:

 

(1) in the right-most lane available to vehicle traffic where vehicles are prohibited from parking along the right curb;

 

(2) in the center of the lane where vehicles are permitted to park along the right curb; or

 

(3) in the right-hand portion of an unlaned street.

 

(B) A bicyclist may not ride a bicycle between vehicles traveling or standing in the same direction within marked lanes of a roadway.

 

§ 12-2-17 RIDING ON RESTRICTED OR PROHIBITED STREETS.

 

A bicyclist may not ride a bicycle on a street where bicycle riding is prohibited or on a street during the hours that bicycle riding is prohibited on the street.

 

ARTICLE 3. BICYCLE HELMETS.

 

§ 12-2-31 HELMET REQUIRED.

 

(A) Except as permitted by Section 12-2-33 (Health Condition Exemption) a child may not operate or ride on a bicycle, sidecar, trailer, child carrier, seat, or other device attached to a bicycle unless the child is wearing a helmet.

 

(B) Except as permitted by Section 12-2-33 (Health Condition Exemption) a parent may not permit a child to operate or ride on a bicycle, sidecar, trailer, child carrier seat, or other device attached to a bicycle unless the child is wearing a helmet.

 

(C) Under this section, a helmet must:

 

(1) be properly fitted and securely fastened to the child’s head with the straps securely tightened;

 

(2) not be structurally damaged; and

 

(3) conform to the standards of the American National Standards Institute, the American Society for testing and Materials, the Snell Memorial Foundation, or a federal agency with regulatory jurisdiction over bicycle helmets at the time of the manufacture of the helmet.

 

§ 12-2-32 APPROVAL OF STANDARDS.

 

(A) The city council approves the bicycle helmet standards promulgated by the American National Standards Institute, the American Society for Testing and Materials, and the Snell Memorial Foundation.

 

(B) The city clerk shall file a copy of the standards in effect on May 9, 1996 in the clerk’s office.

 

§ 12-2-33 HEALTH CONDITION EXEMPTION.

 

(A) A child is not required to wear a helmet if the child has in its immediate possession a health exemption identification prescribed by this section.

 

(B) The city manager shall provide a health exemption identification to a child with a written statement:

 

(1) from a licensed physician that states the child’s health condition and explains why the condition prevents the child from wearing a helmet; and

 

(2) that is approved by the Austin-Travis County Health and Human Services Department.

 

(C) The city manager shall establish procedures to implement this section.

 

§ 12-2-34 SALE OF A BICYCLE.

 

(A) A person may not sell a bicycle, bicycle sidecar, trailer, or child carrier commercially unless the person provides a written statement to the purchaser that describes the requirements of this article.

 

(B) The police chief shall prescribe the statement required under this section and shall provide a sample statement to a person on request.

 

(C) A person who sells bicycles and bicycle equipment shall print and distribute the statement to purchasers at the person’s own expense.

 

§ 12-2-35 LEASE OF A BICYCLE.

 

(A) A person may not lease a bicycle for use by a child unless the person:

 

(1) provides a helmet for each child who will operate or ride on the bicycle; or

 

(2) determines that each child who will operate or ride on the bicycle has a helmet available.

 

(B) A person who sells or leases a helmet for use under this section may charge for the helmet.

 

§ 12-2-36 PENALTY; ENFORCEMENT.

 

(A) A person commits an offense if the person performs an act prohibited by this article or fails to perform an act required by this article.

 

(B) An offense under this article is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed:

 

(1) $20 on a first conviction; and

 

(2) $40 on a subsequent conviction.

 

(C) The municipal court may dismiss a charge against a person for an offense under Section 12-2-31 (Helmet Required) on receiving proof that the defendant acquired a helmet for the child who was operating or riding a bicycle in violation of Section 12-2-31 (Helmet Required) on or before the 30th day after the citation was issued.

 

(D) To promote the use of helmets, the city council encourages the municipal court to consider deferred dispositions under Article 45.051 (Suspension of Sentence and Deferral of Final Disposition) of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure where appropriate.

 

§ 12-2-37 CIVIL ACTIONS.

 

(A) The city council adopts this article to encourage bicycle safety through the use of helmets and through the promotion of educational efforts.

 

(B) The city council does not intend this article to be used in a manner to prejudice a person, child, or parent in a civil action arising out of a bicycle accident. The council encourages construction of this article accordingly.

 

Negligence

All claims originate when one party has been negligent. Negligence occurs when someone is not paying attention, or is being careless when they should have been paying attention. Through the years the law of negligence has developed through the creation of statutes by the legislature and through the interpretation of those statutes by the Courts.

 

The following elements are necessary to establish a negligence cause of action:

The breach of a duty, established by law that is the cause of a resulting harm, and damages to another person, or several people.

Some acts are determined to be intentionally negligent, and others are reckless, or wanton. Also under the umbrella of negligence are claims called, strict liability.

Bicycle Accidents:

Texas requires all children riding bicycles to have a helmet on! It is the law, and it is common sense.

Texas Transportation Code gives bicycles the same duties and responsibilities as car drivers. Bikes must follow all the same rules of the road as cars. ( Transportation Code Section 551.101)

Whenever reasonably required you can therefore ride in the roadway unless you are in a jurisdiction that specifically prohibit cyclists on their bikes from riding in the roadway. The idea is not to impede the ordinary flow of traffic. Keep in mind that if you are acting reasonably, then you are probably acting legally. Riding two abreast can be dangerous no matter where you are. Texas law says it is fine for bikes to ride two abreast where there is more than one lane of traffic so long as you are not an impediment to traffic.

If you are riding at night, then you have to have a light. You should also be well versed in all of the proper hand signals used for turning. For other bikers out there, please call out regarding that ginormous pot hole and point to it after you have managed to avoid it. Also, if there is a car riding up on another cyclist that you see ahead of you, call out “CAR” to let them know that they might “inconvenience” that hummer trying to pass them. These actions are common courtesy and can spare a lot of bike parts and injuries.

Motorcycle & Scooter Accidents

If you or someone you love and care about has been injured in a motorcycle accident, it is crucial that you protect your rights. In order to protect your rights, you or your loved one will need a skilled motorcycle accident attorney to help you navigate the complexity of vehicle and traffic laws, physician and alternative medical support issues, the laws of negligence, and other liability issues and concerns. An experienced attorney can help you know how and when to deal with insurance companies and their representatives. Being represented by a skilled motorcycle accident attorney means you will be provided guidance through all of these various aspects of a motorcycle accident.

Most motorcycle accidents occur where the driver of the vehicle that hit the rider violated a right-of-way or “did not see the motorcycle”. Knowing how to overcome the prejudices that many car drivers/jurors have towards motorcyclists is as important as knowing the law. We at CyclistLaw understand what it is like out on the road. We are endurance bicyclists, scooter riders, and motorcycle riders. We ride on country roads and busy city streets and highways, just like you.

 

Lane Splitting in Texas

Texas does not allow lane splitting! Riders, if you lane split and are in a collision, you will be liable or partially liable for your injuries.

Helmet Laws

Texas does not require adults (those over the age of 21) to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle. Children under the age of five years old are not allowed on motorcycles. All youth under the age of 21, must wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle. Please see the Helmet Law Exemption Tab on this site for more information relating to helmet laws in Texas.

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