Bike Lanes: Sometime Yes, Sometimes No.
Bike lanes are a simple concept; they’re supposed to be a separate lane for bikes that provides cyclists with a bit of safety.
They seem like a good idea, and they are if the bike lane provides a clean, safe place to ride. However, this is not always the case, and there are often good reasons for opting out of the bike lane and riding in the street instead. Here are a few:
- Debris and Hazards: Bike lanes collect the debris and glass that is swept off the road. Sometimes it’s obvious, even to motorists, like tree branches, but sometimes its small, like glass shards, that only we (cyclists) can see. And there are often potholes, gravel and other cycling hazards.
- Poor Design: Many bike lanes are poorly designed poorly and just plain dangerous. Simply painting edge lines several feet to the left of the curb does not make a bike lane. Often, the lanes are not wide enough. Bike lanes next to parked cars are often entirely within a hazard area we call “the door zone.” A suddenly-opened door can kill a cyclist.
- Conflict Zones: When approaching intersections, or in areas with lots of driveways, a bike lane puts us in a conflict zone. Bike lanes increase our risk for all of the common crossing and turning crashes.
So does Texas law require a cyclist to use a bike lane? Sort of, but not really.
Under Texas Law, “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. (By definition, roadway does not include the shoulder of the roadway. Tex. Transp. Code § 541.302(11)).
Because a bike is required to stay to as far right as practicable, this could be interpreted to mean that if there is bike lane, a cyclist would be required to ride in it, as it would be the far right side of the road.
However, a cyclist may “take the lane” or move out of or not use the bike lane if there are “unsafe conditions” such as those things mentioned above. (Tex. Transp. Code § 551.103).
If you are hit by a motor vehicle while riding in a bike lane, you need to call me, Bill Shirer. I have the experience and knowledge to assist you in getting proper compensation for your injuries and property damage. Call 972-392-1249 to schedule your free consultation.