WE ARE ATTORNEYS AND WE ARE RIDERS
WE REPRESENT TEXAS CYCLISTS
I RIDE, I RACE, I REPRESENT CYCLISTS
I graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in 1986. (For what it’s worth, at the time, it was rated as #10 in US law schools. It’s now at #15.) Upon graduation, I started practicing on the defense side with a large, old and reputable law firm, Thompson & Knight in Dallas, Texas. After three years, I moved to a smaller defense firm for another three years. In 1992, I began representing humans and not insurance companies by becoming a plaintiff’s attorney.
I am board-certified in personal injury trial law and have 32 years of trial law experience. I also have the highest rating from Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings. (Ratings are based on other attorneys rating you; i.e., my competition, defense attorneys.) I’ve tried over 150 cases. Currently, I have approximately 70 cases in litigation. If an insurer does not make a “fair and reasonable offer,” I file suit. I’m not afraid to try a case. That’s what I do.
When I first started practicing law, I also started doing triathlons. From 1986 through 2005, I competed in over 120 triathlons. I qualified for the Hawaii Ironman seven times and did the race in 1994 and 1996 (about 10:45 both times). I was a member of Team USA for the age-group triathlon championships in Sweden (1999), Sydney (2000) and Edmonton (2001). I was also the Texas Masters Age Group Champion in 2001 – 2002.
In 2002, my twin daughters were born and that tapered triathlon training. I transitioned to bike racing. Since then, I’ve done over 200 bike races. I’ve won a few races here and there and did well in the 50+ Texas Cup Masters Series (1st in 2012.) I have won ten Texas State 50+ road race and crit championships. I usually wasn’t the strongest guy there, but I showed up, raced a lot and had good results. That’s bike racing.
(Texas State Flag)
TEXAS BICYCLE ACCIDENT STATISTICS
Percentage of Total Traffic Fatalities
Pedalcyclist Fatalities per Million Population
TEXAS BICYCLE STATUTES
All laws mentioned below were current as of August 2012 and may be subject to change.
Safe Passing Laws
Texas does not have a law that sets a specific distance for a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle. The overtaking of a bicycle by a motor vehicle, or vice versa, is governed by general traffic laws and, in most circumstances, such overtaking must be done to the left at a safe distance.
Source: Tex. Transp. Code Ann. §545.053
Texas has no helmet law. It is legal for all persons of any age to operate a bicycle without wearing a helmet unless otherwise provided by a municipal regulation.
However, Texas has designated April as Child Safety Month which, amongst other things, promotes ways to reduce accidental injury and death through the use of bicycle helmets.
Source: TS §662.105
Share the Road license plates
Texas, in conjunction with the Texas Bicycle Coalition Education Fund, offers Share the Road license plates. For more information on such plates please visit: https://rts.texasonline.state.tx.us/NASApp/txdotrts/SpecialPlateOrderServlet?grpid=60&pltid=97
In addition, funds from the "God Bless Texas" and "God Bless America" specialized license plates are used by the Texas Education Agency to support the Safe Routes to School Program.
Source: Tex. Transp. Code Ann. §§504.633; 504.648
Vulnerable Road User Laws
Texas does not have any vulnerable road user laws at this time. There are currently no national standards for laws protecting vulnerable road users, but the League of American Bicyclists has drafted a Model Vulnerable Road User statute, which you can find here.
Distracted Driving Laws
Texas currently has the following laws aimed at distracted driving, subject to limited exceptions:
- A person under 18 years of age may not operate a motor vehicle while using a wireless communications device;
- A person under 17 years of age who holds a restricted motorcycle license or moped license may not operate a motorcycle or moped while using a wireless communications device;
- An operator may not use a wireless communication device while operating a passenger bus with a minor passenger on the bus unless the passenger bus is stopped; and
- An operator may not use a wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle within a school crossing zone unless the vehicle is stopped; or the wireless communication device is used with a hands-free device.
Source: Tex. Transp. Code Ann. §§545.424; 545.425
Where to Ride
Texas requires that a person operating a bicycle on a roadway, at a speed less than the speed of traffic, shall ride as near as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway, unless:
- The person is passing another vehicle moving in the same direction;
- The person is preparing to turn left at an intersection or onto a private road or driveway;
- There exists a condition on or of the roadway that prevents the person from safely riding next to the right curb or edge of the roadway; or
- The person is operating a bicycle in an outside lane that is:
- Less than 14 feet in width and does not have a designated bicycle lane adjacent to that lane; or
- Too narrow for a bicycle and a motor vehicle to safely travel side by side.
- The person is operating a bicycle on a one-way roadway with two or more marked traffic lanes, in which case they may ride as near as practicable to the left curb or edge of the roadway.
Source: Tex. Transp. Code Ann. §551.103
Texas does not have a statute that specifically authorizes or prohibits the operation of a bicycle upon a sidewalk.
Mandatory Use of Separated Facilities
Texas does not require that bicyclists use any lane or path other than a normal vehicular traffic lane.
Bicycling Under the Influence
Texas's law prohibiting driving while under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances is written so that it applies to motor vehicles, but the definition for motor vehicles that is applicable for laws related to intoxication offenses includes bicycles. Due to the broad definition of motor vehicles, intoxication offenses involving motor vehicles may apply to bicyclists. Bicycles should not be operated while intoxicated.
Source: Tex. Transp. Code Ann. §49.04; §32.34(a)(2).
"Idaho Stop" and Vehicle Detection Errors
Texas does not provide any modifications to the requirement to come to a complete stop when directed to stop by traffic control devices and does not authorize bicyclists to disobey traffic lights that fail to detect bicyclists.
Authorization for Local Regulation of bicycles
Texas provides that its state traffic laws shall not prevent a local authority, with respect to a highway under its jurisdiction and in the reasonable exercise of the police power, from the operation and requiring registration and licensing of a bicycle or electric bicycle, including payment of a registration fee.
In addition, a governing body of a municipality may restrain or prohibit the firing of firecrackers or guns, the use of a bicycle or similar conveyance, the use of a firework or similar material, or any other amusement or practice tending to annoy persons passing on a street or sidewalk.
Source: Tex. Transp. Code Ann. §§542.202; 217.003
Texas requires that no person open the door of a motor vehicle on the side available to moving traffic, unless the door may be opened in reasonable safety without interfering with the movement of other traffic. In addition, no person shall leave a door on the side of a vehicle next to moving traffic open for longer than is necessary to load or unload a passenger.
Source: Tex. Transp. Code Ann. §545.418
Treatment as a Vehicle
In Texas bicycles are vehicles according to the statute that defines vehicles and a person riding a bicycle has all of the rights and duties of a driver of a vehicle under the Texas Rules of the Road, except for special regulations specific to bicycles and those provisions that by their nature can have no application.
Source: Tex. Transp. Code Ann. §§541.201(23); 551.101
Source of Laws
The laws regulating the operation of bicycles in the state of Texas are generally found in Titles 545 and 551 of the Texas Statutes (TS), available here: http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Search.aspx.
The following resources may be useful:
- Compilation of Bicycle laws by Bicycle Texas: http://www.biketexas.org/es/infrastructure/texas-bicycle-laws
- Compilation of Bicycle laws by Bicycle Austin: http://bicycleaustin.info/laws/tx-bike.html
- Urban Cycling Legal resources: http://www.urbancycling.com/essays/lawsindex.html
- Compilation of Bicycle laws by Houston Bicycle Club: http://www.houstonbicycleclub.org/Pages/SafetyBikeLaws.aspx
LATEST FROM THE BLOG
Unfortunately 1 year ago I was in a very bad bicycle accident and also took out some of my fellow riders. Fortunately though Ben from Bike Accident Attorneys was on that same bike ride and what a blessing that was for me and those that were also involved. Him and his staff were amazing and so helpful with everything. He was a tremendous help and the greatest thing was not only was I represented professionally, but I gained a close friend and riding teammate. Thank you Ben and to your wonderful staff!Kristi R.
I was referred to Ben and his firm when I was hit by a car. Before I hired him as my attorney, Ben spent an enormous amount of time with me both answering my questions, as well as making sure I was comfortable with the process, timelines, and possible outcomes. Throughout the case I was given timely status reports and updates on the discussions from both sides. Not only was the service provided top notch, but Ben himself is a pleasure to work with. If this is ever something you find yourself in need of, there is no better place to go than BAA.Brian S.
Bike Accident Attorneys is a fantastic law firm dedicated to cyclists! Ben Dodge will go above and beyond to make sure everything you need is taken care of. He is one of the kindest and most honest people I've ever had the honor of knowing. In addition he is a cyclist just like us and knows our mindset and needs. I highly recommend contacting Ben before you do anything else if you are in the unfortunate circumstance of needing help if something happens to you on a ride.Charles B.