If you’re a cyclist in Texas, you have probably had some less-than-desirable encounters with drivers. Maybe someone did not see you and turned in front of you. Maybe they refused to move over while passing and nearly ran you off of the road. In general, you got the sense that they did not respect your basic rights.
But what rights do you have? Let’s take a look to make sure you know where you stand.
First off, Texas law considers a bicycle just another type of vehicle. As such, riders have all of the same duties and rights as people in those vehicles. This includes cars, trucks, commercial vehicles, motorcycles and the like.
What is concerning is that this is where a lot of drivers make mistakes. They don’t believe that cyclists should be on the road. They feel like the roads are for cars and cyclists should stay on sidewalks or trails. Regardless of their personal feelings on the matter, that’s not how it works legally and they must share the road with all cyclists, just as they do with other drivers.
The right of way
One example of the above is when a cyclist has the right of way. The driver has to yield to them properly, even though the vehicle is not a car.
Imagine that a truck is waiting to pull out of a driveway. The driver has to wait for traffic on the road to clear. When it does, the driver pulls forward into the road.
If there’s a cyclist in the bike lane, the driver has to wait for them to cross in front of the truck if there is not enough room to turn in front of them. The cyclist should not have to hit the brakes or take evasive action. They are part of the traffic and drivers must wait and keep them safe.
Taking the lane
Generally speaking, cyclists always want to ride with traffic, near the edge of the traffic lane. They should stay close to the curb. Cars can overtake when there is space to do so safely.
However, cyclists do not have to stay right up against the curb. They can leave a cushion of a few feet so that they don’t strike it and lose control. In areas where the shoulder is too thin to make this possible, the cyclist can leave the shoulder and “take the lane.” This is their legal right. If drivers cannot pass safely, they need to slow down and wait until they have a chance to do so.
Sharing the road
As you can see, the key is for cyclists and drivers to share the road. When drivers violate cyclists’ rights and cause accidents, riders must know what legal options they have.