Suburban Assault

Riding On Texas Sidewalks

with 27 comments

Random Commuter On A Sidewalk

Random Commuter On A Sidewalk

I prefer to take back streets, bike lanes and trails when I ride. However, when I cycle across town I’ll find myself on routes that involve very busy, high speed streets. Although I completely support them, I’m not a vehicular cyclist, so I don’t feel comfortable riding these types of roads. Don’t hate me, but I choose to ride on the sidewalk in these situations.

The purpose of this post is not to start a debate. I’ve read countless discussions about how riding on streets is safer than riding on the sidewalks. I’ve even learned that sidewalks aren’t always the safest places either. For  me, it’s a perspective of Texas drivers and the fear of bike verses SUV physics. I feel more comfortable distancing myself from fast moving, heavy traffic.

Vehicular Cyclist

Cyclist Taking The Lane During Rush Hour

The actual purpose of this post is to raise the question: Is there an actual Texas law that states whether riding a bike on Texas sidewalks is legal or not?

I’ve been all over Google and discovered several links to similar information like this on biketexas.org. The laws are very specific when it comes to cyclist’s rights on Texas roads. However, I cannot find any law that says it is illegal to ride on Texas sidewalks. IF there is, please post links to official, Texas state approved information (not somebody’s opinion or interpretation of the law). I just want to know if I am breaking any laws when I ride these routes.

Sidewalk Riders in Austin

Sidewalk Riders in Austin - Respecting Peds

Again, this is not a debate on the safety of sidewalk verses street riding – this will always be subjective based on each rider’s perspective. I just want to have the right knowledge so that I can make informed decisions when I ride.

Comfortable Riding Back Streets

Comfortable Riding Back Streets

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Written by dickdavid

October 30, 2009 at 6:00 am

Posted in General Cycling

Tagged with , , ,

27 Responses

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  1. I haven’t found much about the “not legal to ride on a sidewalk” but if you do a google search for Dallas City Codes then you can search the codes.

    I was riding a motorcycle and I was hit by a head on left turn car. I was completely in the right and the driver received two tickets. I couldn’t go to work for 21 weeks and if I hadn’t had short term disability I’d be bankrupt. It’s been 3 years and I’m still fighting insurance companies, hospitals and ambulance companies over unpaid fees. I totally agree with you about riding on the sidewalk, the street and making, what I consider, a safe decision. It’s great to have rights and try and play your hand but sometimes you lose. I can’t afford to lose again.
    I (man I’m using a lot of first person…doh…there I…doh…again) ride a folder on the train and it’s geared very slow. It’s too slow to ride on a busy street, like Arapaho or Campbel so I’m on the sidewalk to get on the east side of Central. I also “sidewalk salmon” when the occasion benefits my health.

    http://www.amlegal.com/nxt/gateway.dll/Texas/dallas/volumei/preface?f=templates$fn=default.htm$3.0$vid=amlegal:dallas_tx

    Every person riding a bicycle upon the streets of the city shall be subject to provisions of all laws and ordinances applicable to the driver of any other vehicle, except those provisions of laws and ordinances which, by their very nature, can have no application; provided, however, it shall not be unlawful to ride a bicycle on a public sidewalk anywhere in the city outside of the central business district; said district being formed by the following street lines:
         The south line of Young Street from Houston Street to Hawkins Street.
         The west line of Hawkins Street from Young Street to Pacific Avenue.
         The north line of Pacific Avenue from Hawkins Street to Pearl Street.
         The east line of Pearl Street from Pacific Avenue to Ross Avenue.
         The north line of Ross Avenue from Pearl Street to Austin Street.
         The west line of Austin Street from Ross Avenue to Pacific Avenue.
         The north line of Pacific Avenue from Austin Street to Houston Street.
         The west line of Houston Street from Pacific Avenue to Young Street.
         This provision which permits bicycles to be operated on public sidewalks is not meant to apply to any motor propelled vehicle of any type, but shall apply only to bicycles without motors.  Any person riding a bicycle upon a sidewalk shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and shall give audible signal before overtaking and passing such pedestrian.  (Ord. 13686)

    Rod

    October 30, 2009 at 9:51 am

    • Motorcycles (and scooters) are another type of vehicle that I would love to ride, but don’t for fear of dealing with drivers.

      Thanks for the post, Rob. I hope you get everything worked out.

      dickdavid

      October 30, 2009 at 10:01 am

  2. By the way thanks for turning me on to Redline’s. I got bicycle envy from the pics yours and bought a single speed cruiser from Richardson BM. I couldn’t be happier.

    Rod

    October 30, 2009 at 9:57 am

    • Sweet! Congrats on the new ride.

      dickdavid

      October 30, 2009 at 10:04 am

  3. No state laws make sidewalk riding illegal. It’s all local ordinances. Actually, I can’t think of any state that has made sidewalk riding illegal.

    I can’t say I’d be inclined to criticize sidewalk riding by someone such as yourself. You KNOW it’s dangerous and thus take actions to mitigate the danger. You also appear to be continually re-examining these aspects which will lead to further improvements. Since formal bike education is not available in DFW, trial and error makes things a lot scarier – especially the “error” notion.

    When my Internet works again, I’ll send a link for searchable Texas Statutes. Keep in mind that making sidewalk riding illegal would probably require some sort of age exemption. I can’t think of anyone who’d send a kindergartner with training wheels out into arterial traffic. Kids really be mature enough to walk & chew gum at the same time before they are focused enough to deal with traffic.

    Steve A

    October 30, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    • Lord knows I’m trying. I do enjoy group riding, because it helps build my confidence.

      I also wish there was formal bike education for DFW drivers. Even as a bike rider, my driving awareness has yet to improve. As recently as early summer (when I was in Austin), I was preoccupied with searching for a parking space that I didn’t notice the cyclist passing on my right (can’t remember if there was a bike lane there). Fortunately, my passenger saw them before I turned into them. It’s these sort of honest mistakes that make me worry about those drivers who don’t even bother to care.

      dickdavid

      October 30, 2009 at 7:31 pm

  4. I wouldn’t be passing to your right so it wouldn’t be a problem. The only time I pass to the right of motor vehicles is when I’m going to turn right at the first opportunity and I’m taking advantage of being narrow to do so. Getting smacked by a right-turning or parking car is something that shouldn’t EVER happen, but it frequently does. It’s not just the drivers of motor vehicles that need to pay attention. Bike lanes or their absence don’t excuse that. As a cyclist, you should NEVER forget that. It’s YOU that is at risk, regardless of paint or whatever. You don’t know what to do to be safe. Stop and figure out something. Sidewalks do work if you’re careful and willing to be slow. Working your emergency bike handling skills help, too.

    Yeah, I admit I’m fairly hard core, but it goes both ways. The drivers shouldn’t NEED to care. All they need to do is follow the rules – more or less. As a cyclist, I work hard to compensate for typical inattentive behavior. I actually take pride in doing so. I still am at risk for the egregious stuff. I’m working on that, and I’m not sure the learning ever ends. It’s part of the burden any minority carries.

    I do think, however, that I may be preaching to the choir here, considering the name of the blog…

    Steve A

    October 31, 2009 at 9:10 am

    • You are so right about cyclist needing to do whatever it takes to be safe. We can’t rely on car drivers so the responsibility of our safety is our own. That was the original intent of explaining what type of rider I should be on an earlier post.

      My goal as a cyclist is to figure out the safest solution to all my rides.

      BTW, the name of my blog was intended to be fun, but I can see how it can be transitioned into something more serious.

      dickdavid

      October 31, 2009 at 11:38 am

  5. [...] Riding On Texas Sidewalks « Suburban Assault by dickdavid Explore Your Neighborhood By Bicycle … For me, it’s a perspective of Texas drivers and the fear of bike verses SUV physics. I feel more comfortable distancing myself from fast moving, heavy traffic. The actual purpose of this post is to raise the question: Is there an actual Texas law that states whether riding a bike on Texas sidewalks is legal or not? I’ve been all over Google and discovered several links to similar information like this on biketexas.org. … [...]

  6. I’m not sure where the statute is myself, but I’ve been told that in Dallas, you can ride on the sidewalks anywhere but the CBD (Central Business District). Even though this is stated, I do see the Dallas bicycle police riding on CBD sidewalks regularly during my own commute.

    mannytmoto

    November 1, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    • Very interesting. I’ll have to keep my eye out for those guys.

      dickdavid

      November 2, 2009 at 12:24 pm

  7. On Friday afternoon November 13, 2009, Shane Kelley, a Fort Worth Meacham airport pilot for Executive AirShare, driving in his full-size Hummer hit fellow Trophy Club resident, ME–the Lone Wolf Librarian– riding on a bicycle at a stop sign in Trophy Club on Trophy Lake Dr. while Kelley was exiting the Tom Thumb supermarket parking lot.

    Trophy Club police officer K. Meeks (#065) told Mr. Lang that the incident was his fault for riding a bicycle on the sidewalk.

    Although Mr. Lang said Kelley failed to stop at the stop sign, no citation was given to Kelley because the police officer did not see the incident. Officer Meeks completed a police report (Service #09-100670) which he said would not be available until at least next Tuesday.
    Mr. Kelley gave his insurance information to the police officer but said he would not share it with Mr. Lang until after he confers with legal counsel.

    Mr. Lang’s Schwinn Classic Cruiser SS bicycle was destroyed and a few hours after the incident Mr. Lang went to the Keller CareNow facility to treat injuries.

    I wonder if the story would have been different if it was Mr. Kelley’s 7 year old riding the bike?

    lonewolflibrarian

    November 15, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    • This is a horrible situation, but I’m glad you weren’t killed. You should be able to get his insurance information from the police report and let them decide who was at fault. They may, just to avoid any legal issues, settle with you. I was just talking to a man the other day who was in this same situation. The driver’s insurance paid enough to cover his bike and medical bills.

      This shows my point that you cannot rely on motorists, pedestrians or even other cyclist to watch out for you. It’s up to us to ride defensively and watch our own backs – no matter where we’re riding.

      Get well soon and stay safe.

      dickdavid

      November 16, 2009 at 5:26 am

      • These thoughts apply to motorcyclists as well. Cyclists are virtually invisible to drivers of motor vehicles and the cyclists should always keep this in mind. From my experience few if any cyclists give audible warning before overtaking a pedestrian on a sidewalk. The old bell would be nice or even the skier notice of “on your left”. Bikes coming from behind on a smooth sidewalk make little noticeable noise. Just like passing a motor vehicle on the right the pedestrian may step into your path without notice. In Seattle I was told there are age exceptions, over 60 and under 13, (hearsay).

        Richard

        August 23, 2013 at 5:16 pm

  8. I have lived in Corpus Christi, Texas for about 25 years. This post is about a man about fifty five years old riding his bicycle on the streets of Corpus Christi last Thursday night. Through the media we were told he was riding his bicycle around 7:00 p.m. heading against on coming traffic. The police officer ( understand I use this title not out of respect ) stated the man on the bicycle would not succumb to his order ( not really sure what he was told ) and continued to pedal to the restaurant at the next corner; where it appears he was headed to eat.

    The only details that have been reported about this incident is that it took five officers to subdue and murder this man. The facts are the man was first maced, than tasered twice; apparently the first taser did not work. Than while the five officers were putting handcuffs on the man they notice he was not breathing and began CPR. He was taken to a hospital, put on life support and died on Sunday.

    It has not been reported that the man did any other unlawful act other than not allowing himself to be detained by the police. I use the word detained because the United States Constitution prevents police officer from interfering with our “right to be secure in our persons.” Or as the Fifth Amendment has been interpreted by the Courts a person does not have to stop and talk to a police officer if asked to do so; unless as in this case there is a legitimate reason for the officer to have stopped him.

    We all know that riding a bicycle in traffic is dangerous; and every one that has pedaled on a busy street has taken strategic measures to avoid being run over by a car. My friend and I have determined it is safer to travel against the flow of traffic because you can see and avoid the dangers of getting hit. And I am well aware that many bicyclists would disagree with this fashion of riding. However we must all agree that riding in traffic requires maneuvers that may violate the law.

    And now in addition to avoid being hit by a car or hitting your head on a low lying tree limb, or crashing into a large pot hole; we must be concerned about how we execute the evasive action. Because if the action we take violates the, Texas Transportation Code Title 7 Subtitle C Chapter 551, you may be murdered by the police!

    From what the media has reported, including an interview with one of the five officers, there is no way that the action taken by the officers can be justified! At least they could have made up some fact like the man pointed a gun at the officer.

    I am outraged!!! I talked with a few middle aged bicyclists last night who said they also were a little apprehensive riding there bicycles. This was an unjustified murder committed by five Corpus Christi police officers. They were put on administrative leave on Friday (11/13/09 ) and returned to work today (11/16/09). Obviously, “internal affairs” cleared the officer’s behavior, which means they found nothing wrong with killing this man. This also means that as of now, the Disrict Attorney will not pursue any criminal charges. Unless, there is enough political pressure forcing him to present an indictment against these officers.

    If any one reads this, and becomes as outraged as I have become, please respond and let me know what can be done to prevent this from ever happening again. Because now the police have the right to taser anyone on a bicycle that they perceive to be in violation of the Transportation Code.

    BRUCE C. MATZKE

    November 16, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    • This idiot wasn’t tasered for violating the Transportation Code, he was tasered because of what he did after he got off his bicycle.

      What can be done to prevent this from ever happening again?

      Let’s see …. (1) recognize that cops are armed with tasers and 16 round 9mm semi-automatic pistols; (2) also keep in mind that your ability to repel the projectiles they fire is not very good, so (3) don’t piss them off by not doing what they tell you to do; finally, and MOST IMPORTANT (4) don’t become so violent in your non-response to their commands that it takes mace, a taser, a choke-hold and 5 of them to subdue you. This does not set the stage for a favorable outcome.

      If you follow these simple rules, your liklihood of being “murdered” by the police is drastically reduced.

      By way of contrast, a few months ago I was stopped by a Dallas cop for making an illegal U-turn. He came up to the driver’s window and asked, “Now WHY would you make a U-turn in front of a big sign telling you not to, and in front of a cop?”

      I answered, “Well, obviously, I didn’t see the cop!”

      I made him laugh, and he let me go with a warning.

      Get it?

      Terry Girardot

      December 8, 2009 at 12:36 am

  9. Check this out: http://bicycleaustin.info/laws/austin.html

    Riding on Sidewalks
    § 16-8-22 Can’t ride on certain sidewalks. Circa 2001, the law was amended to specify exactly where cyclists can’t ride:

    § 16-8-22 BICYCLE RIDING ON SIDEWALKS.

    (A) Except as provided in Subsection (B), a person may ride a bicycle on a sidewalk.
    (B) A person may not ride a bicycle on a sidewalk on the following streets:

    (1) 100-1100 blocks of Congress Avenue;
    (2) 1900-2500 blocks of Guadalupe Street;
    (3) 100-1100 blocks of Brazos Street;
    (4) 200-1100 blocks of Colorado Street;
    (5) from the 200 block of West 2nd to the 300 block of East 2nd Street;
    (6) from the 900 block of West 5th to the 800 block of East 5th Street;
    (7) from the 700 block of East 6th Street to the 1000 block of West 6th Street;
    (8) from the 100 block of West 8th Street to the 200 block of East 8th Street;
    (9) from the 100 block of West 9th Street to the 200 block of East 9th Street;
    (10) from the 200 block of West 11th Street to the 200 block of East 11th Street; and
    (11) from the 200 block of West 15th Street to the 200 block of East 15th Street.
    (Ord. 020418-39)

    Jeremy

    March 17, 2010 at 9:22 am

    • Thanks for posting. I’m getting the sense that the laws are location specific.

      dickdavid

      March 17, 2010 at 9:53 am

  10. For San Antonio it says:
    “In addition, in San Antonio, City Ordinance does not allow bicycles to be ridden on sidewalks (except for law enforcement and emergency personnel) [City of San Antonio Ordinances Sec. 19-286]” http://www.sanantonio.gov/sapd/BikeSafety.asp

    Which is really lame! I know of MANY roads with wide open side walks and very busy streets full of trucks and big SUVs, where you’d be MUCH safer off on the sidewalk that has almost zero pedestrian traffic.

    So, it sucks to bike in San Antonio to commute, although before I knew this was a law I used to ride on the sidewalks and I’ve seen cop cars while riding and they never said anything to me. So, it’s probably not enforced very often. You could probably even be polite and feign ignorance and get away at least once unless they were hell bent on ticketing you.

    G.P.

    March 17, 2010 at 4:03 pm

  11. Laws like these exist for a reason.

    I understand your reasons for riding on the sidewalk, but I should point out that pedestrian vs bicycle physics aren’t all that great either. People *have* been killed from being hit by people on bikes.

    If you can safely bike on the sidewalk and the roads are that dangerous, then do so. Just don’t shift the danger from yourself to other people. Otherwise, you risk being the asshole SUV of the sidewalk.

    Jason Baker

    April 16, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    • I completely agree. Although the physics aren’t as extreme, it is just as dangerous for pedestrians. My rule of thumb is to ride the road, whenever it is safe and possible. If I need a parking lot, all-access trail, or sidewalk to find a connection to another road, my speed is greatly reduced. Peds always get the right of way, everywhere.

      Sadly (or fortunately), there aren’t as many pedestrians in the ‘burbs, so it isn’t much of an issue with sharing the sidewalk. My rule for pedestrian-dense urban areas would most likely be riding the streets or walking my bike.

      I suppose I will continue to use the sidewalks until it actually becomes illegal in my part of the state. Some Texas cities have had law enforcement officials that would prefer you take the sidewalk – or at least an improved shoulder where available.

      dickdavid

      April 17, 2011 at 5:12 am

  12. Now here’s a question I can’t find a straight answer to:

    Under Texas State Law (no local ordinances), is it illegal to ride a bicycle across a crosswalk, from the sidewalk on one side to the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street? I received a ticket solely for doing this, they claimed that this constituted riding on the wrong side of the roadway.

    J. Jones

    September 12, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    • Without knowing the exact particulars of your situation, I can’t really comment. What part of Texas is this? Do they have a local ordinance about this?

      From my perspective, it sounds like a load of crap for them to ticket you for that. I have never walked my bike across a street (via a crosswalk). In fact, some of the multi-purpose trails in my neck of the woods are connected with crosswalks. Nowhere in our local ordinance does it require people to walk their bikes on these sections.

      dickdavid

      September 13, 2011 at 8:05 am

      • College Station, TX. They have no local ordinances saying that you can or can’t ride your bike anywhere, they are simply citing me based on what they claim is state law.

        J. Jones

        September 13, 2011 at 11:22 am

        • Sounds like a BS loophole. I’m sure there is a law about riding any vehicle on the wrong side of the roadway, but matching that up with what you were actually doing is subjective. There isn’t a specific law that addresses that very issue, but there is lots of room for misinterpretation.

          Was this at an intersection or was it a mid-street crosswalk? Were you going against the flow of traffic?

          dickdavid

          September 13, 2011 at 11:30 am

  13. It was at an intersection, and against the flow of traffic on the main street parallel to the sidewalk. Still, I never was anywhere close to being on that street, the only street my wheels ever touched was the side street that I crossed at the crosswalk.

    J. Jones

    September 13, 2011 at 11:37 am

    • Seems unfair. You see peds crossing both ways (with and against the traffic) all the time. I wonder if you would have been cited if you (with the flow of traffic) crossed the main street before crossing the side street?

      It’s tough with a bike, since it’s seen as a vehicle. You’re not wanted on the street by many drivers, but you’re expected to follow all the traffic laws (clear or not), even when you opt for riding on the sidewalks.

      This is one of the reasons why I’ve been riding mostly on-street. Safety is subjective, but the law sees you as a vehicle, so I try to act like one.

      dickdavid

      September 13, 2011 at 11:53 am


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