Before starting to bicycle in any urban environment, you should take some time to familiarize yourself with state and local laws. Every state is different, and some counties and cities also have their own rules when it comes to this activity. Here are the laws you need to know before you head out to cycle in and around Austin.
Local Bike Laws in Austin
These laws apply within the city limits of Austin:
- Helmet requirement. Every child younger than 18 years old must wear a helmet while bicycling.
- Riding on sidewalks. Sidewalk riding is banned in most areas of the city. Ride on designated bike paths or on the road as far to the right as possible.
- Group riding. If you start planning a bike riding event, you do need to obtain a street event permit.
- Riding on the road. Obey traffic rules, ride with the flow of traffic, and don’t pass vehicles on the roadways.
- Riding on bike paths. Provide pedestrians three feet of space when passing.
- Cars parked in bicycle lanes. If a sign bans parking in a bike lane, you can call 311 to report the violation.
State Laws in Texas
These laws apply regardless of your location in the state:
- Helmet. State law doesn’t require the use of a helmet on a bike, but you should wear one on the road.
- Obey traffic rules. Bicycles must follow all of the rules of the road, including stopping completely at stop signs.
- Keep one hand on the handlebar. Don’t stretch with both hands in the air while you’re moving. State law requires you to keep one hand on the handlebars at all times.
- Signaling. You have a responsibility to indicate turns and movement to traffic. Use appropriate signals for left and right turns.
- Use light reflectors. If you plan to ride your bike at night, you must have a white light on the front of your bike and a red light/reflector on the back.
- Don’t ride double on a single saddle bike. It may seem romantic, but sharing your bike with another rider is against the law on the road.
- Riding beside other bicyclists. As long as your movement doesn’t impede vehicle traffic, you may ride alongside another bicyclist in one lane.
Regardless of the laws, here are tips you need to stay safe while riding:
- Invest in a rearview mirror. If you plan to ride in traffic, you may not always comfortably look over your shoulder. Consider installing a mirror to monitor surrounding traffic.
- Wear a helmet. Bike accidents tend to be severe, particularly if they involve a vehicle. Wearing a helmet can greatly reduce the risk of experiencing a traumatic brain injury.
- Wear appropriate clothing. Either wear clothing that’s tight around the calf or use a strap to secure your pant leg. You can tear your pants or wreck if loose fabric catches in your bicycle chain.
- Have fun! Bicycling is supposed to be a fun activity. With some simple safety practices and an understanding of the law, you can fully enjoy the exercise and freedom bicycling provides.
If you’re injured in a bicycle accident or have questions about bicycle law in Austin, contact Joe Lopez Law. We can walk you through your options for compensation.