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Bicycle Accidents

An accident between a cyclist and a car or truck often leads to serious injuries.   A cyclist obviously does not have the same safeguards as passengers in a vehicle.  As a result, the bicycle accidents that we handle usually involve significant injuries which usually results in  higher settlement values.

There is prejudice that needs to be overcome when it comes to representing bicycle accident victims, because some people simply do not believe that a bicycle enjoys the same rights and privileges as passenger vehicles.  While the law is clear that bicycles have a right to be on the road, a good personal injury lawyer needs to beware of the prejudice and work to educate the insurance company, their adjusters and members of the jury about the law and cyclists’ rights.

Here are answers to frequently asked questions regarding bicycle accidents and the bicycle laws that may affect your case.

What traffic laws apply to cyclists?

Bicycles generally have the same rights and are subject to the same rules of the road that apply to motor vehicles. Tex. Transp. Code § 551.101, see also Tex. Transp. Code, Title 7, Subtitle C. Rules of the Road, Chapters 541 - 600. Unless a specific statutory right or duty is altered by Tex. Transp. Code Chapter 551, bikes have the same rights and responsibilities as cars and trucks.

Where are cyclists supposed to ride their bikes on the road?

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. Tex. Transp. Code § 551.103. Bikes are not required to (and are not supposed to) ride on the shoulder of a roadway. Tex. Transp. Code, Chapter 551.

Are cyclists required to signal a turn or stop?

Bicyclists are required to use hand signals to signal their intent to stop, turn left, or turn right.

The bicyclist shall 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.

What are the bicycle nighttime rules and laws?

Bicycle riding is allowed at nighttime if the bike 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 ared lamp visible from a distance of 500 feet from the rear of the bicycle.

Can I ride my bike on a sidewalk?

Yes, however some local ordinances prohibit riding a bicycle on sidewalks. Also, a person may stop, stand or park a bicycle on a sidewalk if the bicycle does not impede the normal and reasonable movement of pedestrian or other traffic on the sidewalk. Tex. Transp. Code § 545.302.

Can I ride my bike on the Interstate?

Generally, yes.  The Texas Transportation Commission may prohibit such use on roads within its’ jurisdiction by order or resolution; however, the commission has not prohibited such use to date. Tex. Transp. Code § 545.065.

When can a bicyclist "take the lane" (the full lane of traffic)?

A bicyclist 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. However, bicyclists may take the full lane of travel under the following circumstances:

  • 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.

Tex. Transp. Code § 551.103.  Also, a bicyclist can ride to the far left instead of the far right on a one-way street.

Can bicyclists ride next to each other on the roadway?

Bicyclists 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". Tex. Penal Code § 42.03.

Does Car Insurance Cover a Bicycle Accident?

Generally, yes. The at fault driver’s insurance is responsible for your damages and injuries up to the driver’s insurance policy limits. This includes your personal injuries and the property damage to your bicycle.  Also, your own Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Protection (UM/UIM) and/or Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and/or Medical Payments (Med Pay) found in your automobile policy will cover you while you are riding your bicycle. 

Injured in a bicycle accident and need some good legal advice?  Call El Paso Bicycle Accident Lawyer Clark Harmonson at (915) 228-4140.