There has been a dispute recently between bicycle riders and sheriff deputies in Collin County. The cyclists have been getting lots of traffic tickets, and there seemed to be a misunderstanding of the “rules of the road” on the part of some cyclists. The basic law in Texas is that a bicycle is treated essentially the same as an automobile, and must follow all the laws that apply to cars. There are exceptions though, and that might have contributed to the confusion.The whole controversy was explained at BikeDFW.org, and the article provides a good reminder for all cyclists.
Here is the mission statement of BikeDFW. Excerpts from the article are below.
The mission of BikeDFW is to increase the use, accessibility, and safety of bicycling in North Texas by:
- offering and promoting bicycle education programs that foster safe and confident riding
- advocating for bicycle-friendly policies, infrastructure, and legislation at the local, regional, and state levels
- raising awareness of the importance of bicycling in commuting, multi-modal transportation, recreation, and promoting better health
Through our individual member, bicycle club member and industry sponsor programs, BikeDFW represents over 1,100 cyclists in North Texas.
Cycling Safety and Enforcement Guidelines for Collin County
Representatives from BikeDFW, area bicycle clubs, and bike shops met with the Collin County Sheriff’s Office on Monday, July 11, 2011 to discuss issues arising from citizen complaints about cyclists and cycling groups in areas patrolled by the Sheriff’s Office. Common complaints were cyclists impeding traffic flow and disregarding traffic control devices (stop signs and red lights). The “last straw” was a complaint about a cyclist spraying water on a car after an alleged verbal altercation. Based on these complaints, the Sheriff’s Office has been compelled to enforce traffic regulations by issuing citations to cyclists who don’t follow the rules of the road.
The Sheriff’s Office does not want to discourage cycling in Collin County. They want the environment to be conducive to cycling and they want cyclists to be safe. This was a positive and productive meeting. The Sheriff’s Office is open to input from cyclists and it is up to the cycling community to keep the relationship constructive.
The discussion resulted in the following cycling and enforcement guidelines for Collin County. We feel they are reasonable solutions that enforce the rules of the road while improving safety for cyclists and motorists, and taking the practicalities of group riding into consideration. We hope they will become a model for other law enforcement agencies in North Texas.
1. Cyclists must stop at all traffic signals (red lights) and not proceed until the light turns green.
2. Cyclists must stop at all stop signs. For safety and enforcement purposes, a stop is defined as:
1. Wheels come to a complete stop.
2. One foot down on the pavement.
3. Cyclists riding in a group are allowed to do a “group” stop at stop signs as follows:
1. The riders at the front of the group come to a complete stop with one foot down.
2. Riders behind also come to a complete stop.
3. The entire group then proceeds through the intersection when it is safe.
4. If there is a split – a break – in the group, each smaller group will be treated separately and must also come to a complete stop, independently of the main group.
4. Cyclists are allowed to ride two (2) abreast on two-lane roadways (a single lane in each direction), but only as long as there is no traffic approaching from behind. Cyclists must move into a single line (“single up”) when cars approach to avoid impeding traffic.
5. Cyclists should ride near the right edge of the lane unless it is not practical to do so, such as in a narrow lane (less than 14′ wide), or in the presence of road obstructions, debris, potholes, etc.