Who is Bicycling?

There are as many types of cyclist as there are reasons for cycling. Each ‘type’ has a different effect on roadway communication due to different knowledge levels, experience and ways of driving and riding.

Cyclists can be:

  • Neighborhood riders (families and kids typically riding in neighborhoods for fun)
  • Commuters (i.e., regular to everyday riders who typically ride to work, run errands, etc.)
  • Students
  • Delivery Messengers (couriers and delivery riders who typically ride in high traffic areas)
  • Athletes (long distance riders possibly in teams who typically ride on rural roads and areas outside the center of town)
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Main Causes of Motorist/Cyclist Crashes

  • Motorist Distractions
  • STOP on Red!
  • Right or Left Hook
  • Failure to Yield
  • Dooring

Motorist Distractions

Both motorists and vulnerable road users must eliminate deadly distractions – put your cell phone down so you can drive aware, focused, and safe. Far too many crashes occur as drivers run into the back of a bicyclist while texting or distracted!

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STOP on Red!

You’re driving down the road, approaching an intersection with a traffic light. The signal facing you turns red.  What do you do?  This is not a trick question; you stop before you enter the intersection. Yet too many people fail to do just that.

An estimated 165,000 motorists, cyclists and pedestrians are injured annually by red-light runners, and half of the people killed are not the red-light running drivers, but passengers, other motorists, pedestrians and cyclists.

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Right or Left Hook

A right hook conflict occurs when a driver passes a cyclist on the left and then proceeds to make a right-hand turn directly in front of the cyclist’s right-of-way. This is very important. A cycling lane is a traffic lane, no different than the lane the driver is traveling on. You would not turn right in front of a person – the same applies to cyclists.

The left hook is the same, only reversed. The driver passes the cyclist on the right, then proceeds to make a left-hand turn directly in front of the cyclist’s right-of-way.

Learning to anticipate the distance required to turn is crucial. Sometimes waiting and letting the cyclists pass or yield is the best practice and safest for all. Cyclists can top speeds up to 15-20 MPH, which is easy for motorists to underestimate. They may not have time to clear the intersection before the cyclist reaches them.

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Driver Failure to Yield

This crash occurs when a motorist is entering the roadway and fails to yield to a cyclist. Why does the motorist fail to yield? Sometimes motorists may misjudge the cyclist’s speed, which can get up to 15 or 20 MPH, or some may assume the cyclist is stopping because he or she is coasting.

Be vigilant about scanning the road ahead. Attempt to make eye contact with the cyclist. Be prepared to stop or take evasive action such as slowing or turning.

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Dooring occurs when a driver opens the door of his or her parked vehicle directly into the pathway of an oncoming cyclist. Dooring frequently causes the cyclist to flip over the door, leave him or her vulnerable and exposed to oncoming traffic.

This is dangerous not only because of cyclist exposure to oncoming traffic, but also because of crashing down from the gravity of being flipped, which can cause very serious injuries.

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Texas Rules of the Road

The following is a simplified version of the Texas Transportation Code Chapters 551 and 545 as they pertain to bicycles.
For a complete list of Texas laws visit the Texas statutes.

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Safe Passing

The minimum safe distance while passing is 3 feet between cyclist and standard size motor vehicle and 6 feet between cyclist and large motor vehicles. Check your city ordinances for safe passing ordinances as they may vary from city to city.

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Yield Right of Way

When turning left at an intersection, yield to cyclists approaching from the opposite direction. Do not overtake cyclist traveling in the same direction and then make a right or left hand turn in front of them. Cyclists can top speeds 15-20 MPH so they may approach faster than motorist expects.

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Driving on Improved Shoulder

Whereas cyclists can ride on the shoulder, motorists should not and may only drive on an improved shoulder to the right of the main roadway if that operation is necessary and may be done safely to: (1) stop, stand, or park; (2) accelerate before entering the main traveled lane of traffic; (3) decelerate before making a right turn; (4) pass another vehicle that is slowing or stopped on the main traveled portion of the highway, disabled, or preparing to make a left turn; (5) allow another vehicle traveling faster to pass; (6) as permitted or required by an official traffic-control device; or (7) avoid a collision.

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Approaching a Sidewalk

Always slow down or stop when approaching a sidewalk. According to the US Department of Transportation, whether in rural or urban areas, the most dangerous area is mid-block, where drivers may be less alert to the presence of cyclists. In 2012, 60% of cyclist deaths occurred outside of the intersection. Time of day and lighting conditions also contribute to risks for cyclists. The majority of cyclists’ fatalities occur in the evening hours during low-light conditions, particularly between 4pm and 8pm.

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Only one person per bike, unless the bike is designed for riding tandem.

– You cannot carry anything or perform any task that prevents you from having at least one hand on the handlebars

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Cyclists must ride in the same direction as traffic and near the curb (the minimum safe distance while passing is 3 feet between cyclists and standard size motor vehicle and 6 feet between cyclists and large motor vehicles)

– Cyclists do have the right to take the lane when out of safety necessity
– Cyclists may ride two abreast when it does not impede traffic

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– To indicate turning left, extend your left arm horizontally
– To indicate turning right, cyclists can either extend their right arm or extend left arm and hand upward
– To indicate slowing down or stopping, extend hand and arm downward

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Bicycle brakes must be capable of making the braked wheel skid while on level pavement

– Bicycles must be equipped with a white light on the front of the bike and a red reflector on the back for nighttime riding

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