Security and Safety

5 Safety Tips for Biking in Texas’ Cities

By Peter Simek 8.2.21

For Texans living in cities, there are many reasons to trade in your car for a bicycle on your daily commute. Perhaps you are looking for ways to reduce your carbon footprint, are tired of sitting on Texas highways that increasingly resemble parking lots, are looking for a little exercise, or want to save on gas money.

But the increased popularity of biking in the city comes with risks, particularly in a state that has long favored car infrastructure and safety over bicycle and pedestrian transportation. Staying safe on the road, however, can be possible, as long as you keep a few simple urban cycling tips in mind.

1. Gear Up

If you plan on doing some serious biking in the city, start by purchasing a good, well-fitted helmet. Head injuries pose the biggest risk for cyclists involved in any accidents or collisions.

In addition to a helmet, make sure your bike is in tip-top shape. Protecting yourself in traffic begins by making sure your bike is well-maintained. Check the brakes and tire pressure regularly, and don’t ignore any strange noises — clicking, buzzing, vibrations — that may indicate a potential operating problem you don’t want to discover while in traffic.

2. Own Your Lane

Unfortunately, it is generally not possible to travel between destinations in Texas using only bicycle infrastructure such as bike lanes. When you are sharing the road with motorized vehicles, be sure to “boss your lane.” That means staying in the center of the lane so you can be clearly seen. After all, bikes and cars have the same rights to use Texas streets, so don’t get bullied to the side of the road.

3. Obey Traffic Laws

Sharing the road with cars goes both ways: You have a right to ride in traffic, and you also must obey traffic laws. This means not skipping between cars, ridding in gutters, going through red lights, or turning without signaling. Obeying traffic laws also helps drivers understand and predict your behavior on the bike, which will help keep you safe.

4. See and Be Seen

If you plan on biking in the city regularly, you may want to fit your bike with daytime running lights and invest in bright, reflective clothing. Staying visible on the road also means anticipating the behavior of other drivers. Try to make eye contact with drivers so you can be sure they are aware of your presence. If you cannot see a driver through their mirrors, they likely can’t see you. Riding in packs can also help cyclists stay visible on the road.

5. Assume the Worst

If you are wondering if a parked car door may fling open into your way, assume it will. If you are concerned about obstructions in the road ahead, take precautions early. Sadly, many Texas drivers are not used to sharing the road with cyclists, so assume they won’t see you. Ride defensively. Other defensive cycling precautions include avoiding distractions such as headphones and planning out your trips ahead of time so you can take advantage of the safest, most bike-friendly routes available.

Learn more about sharing the road with all types of Texas drivers.

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