In addition to state-wide laws, Houston, Texas has its own bicycle laws. Bike Law Charlie explains.
As both a bicycle accident attorney and advocate for safer riding, I previously prepared an article to serve as an overview of the laws that apply to riders while bicycling in Texas. We now focus on cities that have passed their own book of laws that also apply to bicyclists. This article focuses on relevant bicycle laws in Houston, Texas, which are listed in its Code of Ordinances at Article 12.
Authority to Prohibit Riding on Roadways
Houston’s traffic engineer is authorized to erect signs on any roadway prohibiting the riding of bicycles thereon and, when such signs are in place, no person shall disobey the same. §45-301.
Riding on Sidewalks
Houston prohibits bicycle riding on sidewalks in business districts per §45-302. This section further provides that a traffic engineer is authorized to erect signs on any sidewalk outside a business district prohibiting the riding of bicycles thereon by any person. Moreover, this section mandates that bicyclists properly on a sidewalk shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and shall give audible signal before overtaking and passing any pedestrian.
Helmets Required for Children
Houston requires the use of a helmet for any child who rides on a bicycle or any side car, trailer, child carrier, seat or other device attached to a bicycle. Child means any person less than 18 years of age. Houston’s ordinance recognizes a defense to prosecution if the bicycle was not being operated upon a public way at the time of the alleged offense. Additionally, it is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section, upon first offense only, that the person owns or has acquired a helmet prior to the court hearing and promises the court that the helmet will be used in the future. This section does not apply to the operation of a pedicab. §45-326.
Sale or Lease of Bicycles by Houston Dealers
Houston further requires any dealer who leases a bicycle to provide a helmet for the use of each child who will ride upon the bicycle or to determine that each child who will operate or ride upon the bicycle has a helmet available. The dealer may impose an additional fee for use of the helmet if the dealer sells or leases a helmet to the bicycle lessee. Furthermore, it shall be unlawful for any dealer to sell a bicycle, bicycle side car, trailer or child carrier without providing a written statement to the purchaser advising of the terms of this division. §45-327.
Bicycle Helmet Fund
The bicycle helmet fund was created to accept donations of helmets and money to be used for the purchase of helmets. All monetary gifts to the fund shall constitute a trust that shall be deposited in the Houston’s trust and agency account, which may be invested as provided in the Texas Local Government Code. The fund shall be used exclusively for the purpose of providing bicycle helmets for the use of members of “very low income families.” The directors of the parks and recreation department and the health and human services department shall jointly administer the fund and shall promulgate rules and procedures for the distribution of helmets. Helmets shall be provided on a first-come-first-served basis to the extent of available supply. §45-329.