As the attorney for Bike Law Texas, I am frequently asked whether one may legally ride on Interstate 10. Of course, this inquiry is typically sparked by someone planning a route in west Texas, rather than someone looking for a shortcut within the Houston city limits. Nevertheless, the legal issue is an important one.
The short answer is that there are no federal laws or regulations that prohibit bicycle use on interstate highways or other freeways. Although a State may prohibit bicycles on freeways, prohibition is not a Federal requirement. Most western States allow bicycles to use interstate highways or other freeways while restricting bicycle use in urban or other congested areas.
In some locations, the interstate highway or other freeways may be the only reasonable route, or it may be preferred compared to other steep, narrow, or winding routes. A State should consider safety and traffic concerns along the freeway and along alternative routes when considering whether or not to allow bicyclists to use these types of roadways.
According to the Texas DOT, the Texas Transportation Commission may prohibit the use of a limited-access or controlled-access highway by a parade, funeral procession, pedestrian, bicycle, electric bicycle, motor-driven cycle, or non-motorized traffic. If the commission adopts a rule prohibiting the use of bikes on such a roadway, the commission shall install and maintain official traffic-control devices on the portions of the limited-access or controlled-access highway to which the rule applies. Tex. Transp. Code § 545.065. Currently, both Bike Law and the Texas DOT are unaware of the Texas Transportation Commission taking any such action. Of course, many sections of interstate highway will prohibit bicycle usage in urban areas.
In sum, it is largely understood and accepted that a bicyclist may use I-10 highway in the western portion of Texas. Nevertheless, anyone riding on roadways should take as much caution as necessary to be visible and safe.
Should you have any questions regarding the above, feel free to email me at [email protected]
Photo credit: Adventure Cycling