Active Transportation Legislation & Resources
Bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorists all have certain responsibilities when operating within or crossing the public right-of-way. Generally in Texas, bicyclists are entitled to all rights and obligated to all duties of the road that apply to an operator of a motor vehicle, except where specifically prohibited by posted notice.
The resources below contain summaries from federal, state, and local laws and regulations related to walking and bicycling. Contact us if your community has ordinances and policies which may be included as an additional resource.
- Bicycle Commuter Tax Benefit
- Bicyclist Rights and Duties
- General Operation of a Bicycle
- Bicycle Operation on Roadway
- Bicycle Safety Equipment
- Turn Signals for Bicyclists
- Blocking Sidewalks
- Competitive Bicycle Races
- Texas E-Bike Legislation - NEW!
- Pedestrians Crossing a Signalized Intersection
- Pedestrians Crossing in an Unmarked Crosswalk
- Pedestrians Using Sidewalks
- Traffic Control Signals
- Texas Driver’s Handbook (Texas Department of Public Safety)
- Guidelines Emphasizing Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodations (Texas Department of Transportation)
- Bicycle Helmets
- Bicycle Parking Ordinances and Regulations
- Bicycling and Walking on Freeways
- Clinging to Motor Vehicles
- Dockless Vehicles (Bicycles and Electric Scooters)
- Protecting Vulnerable Road Users
- Riding on Sidewalks
Bicycle and Pedestrian Legislation in Title 23 United States Code (U.S.C.): The website also provides additional information about FHWA Legislation and the FHWA Memorandum designating Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinators within State Departments of Transportation.
Policy Statement on Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodation Regulations and Recommendations: This 2010 statement from the US Department of Transportation emphasizes the importance of active transportation and the agency’s commitment to integrating these modes of transportation into their projects and everyday line of work.
Bicycle Commuter Tax Benefit: An in-depth overview of the Bicycle Commuter Act and tax benefit covered in section 13304(c)(2) of the Internal Revenue Service Code (26 U.S.C. sec. 132(f)). “A qualified bicycle commuting reimbursement, means any employer, if they chose to do so, may provide a reimbursement of up to $20 per month for reasonable expenses incurred by the employee in conjunction with their commute to work by bike."
Texas Transportation Code
Texas state law governs bicycles and pedestrians in much the same way it regulates motor vehicles. The Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) has issued a list of frequently asked questions about these laws, including questions like:
- What traffic laws apply to bicyclists? What traffic laws do not?
- Are pedestrians allowed to walk on the roadway or a bike lane?
- Is it legal to ride a bike on interstate highways?
- If there is a bike path adjacent to the roadway, does a cyclist have to use it or can they use the roadway?
The citations under the panels below are a selection from the Texas Transportation Code.
Most municipal ordinances in our region related to bicycle and pedestrian transportation reference the State Transportation Code. The following ordinances are a sample of local laws passed by municipalities within the North Central Texas region, organized by topic.
There is no state law requiring bicyclists to wear a helmet. However, various local governments may have specific requirements. Check with your local community to find out the rules where you ride.
Fort Worth: Helmets are required to be worn by those bicycling under the age of 18. (Chapter 22, Article VII, Sec. 22-245. Bicycle Helmets)
Dallas: Helmets are required to be worn only by those bicycling under the age of 18. (Chapter 9, Article II, Sec. 9-8. Bicycle Helmet Required)
Bicycle Parking Ordinances and Regulations
Local laws can encourage bicycling by making bike parking more widely available. New developments of a certain size constructed in the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth are required to provide parking for bicycles. In addition, cities such as Denton have guidelines encouraging the location and placement of bicycle parking accommodations.
Learn about how to draft an ordinance for bicycle parking.
Dallas: The applicability, general provisions, spaces required, location and design, and waivers for bicycle parking. (Chapter 51A, Article IV, Division 51A-4.330. Bicycle Parking Regulations)
Denton: Development applications do not require the provision of bicycle parking; however, guidelines are provided and encouraged by the City of Denton. (Subchapter 14, 35.14.7. Limitations, Location, Use of Facilities)
Fort Worth: Instructions on where, how many, and what design bicycle parking are required at developments. (Chapter 6, Article 2, Sec.6.204. Bicycle Parking)
Frisco: Regulations established for bicycle parking. (Ordinance No. 16-05-42, Subsection 4.04.12, Bicycle Parking, and Subsection 7.01, Terms and Words Defined)
Bicycling and Walking on Freeways
In addition to the Texas Transportation Commission, municipalities may prohibit the use of bicycling and walking on freeways within their jurisdiction.
Fort Worth: The use of any freeway by pedestrians or bicyclists is prohibited, including the freeway shoulders. (Chapter 22, Article III, Sec. 22-82. Use Restricted of Freeways to Automotive Vehicles)
Clinging to Motor Vehicles
Fort Worth: It shall be unlawful for any person traveling upon any bicycle to cling to or attach himself or herself or his or her vehicle to any other moving vehicle on any street. (Ord. 15281, § 1, passed 10-08-2002, in Chapter 22, Article VII, Sec. 22-243. Clinging to Moving Vehicles)
Dockless Vehicles (Bicycles and Electric Scooters)
Dockless bicycles and electric scooters are operated by private companies in the public right of way. The bicycles are inexpensive to rent, they are not returned to docking stations, and they are tracked and used with GPS and Bluetooth technology. Because of this, municipalities around the region have crafted regulatory ordinances to ensure safe parking and fair operation within city boundaries and special districts, and include data sharing requirements.
Dallas: The City of Dallas’ Dockless Vehicle Ordinance and Permit Application identify the requirements for companies to obtain a permit to operate.
Denton: The City of Denton's ordinance includes a pilot program and permit requirement to operate within the city.
Plano: The City of Plano’s ordinance establishes a pilot program to award permits to bike share companies that meet the requirements.
Town of Highland Park: The Town of Highland Park’s ordinance has prohibited dockless bicycles from being parked within the city limits. (Chapter 12, Article 12.09, Sec. 12.09.007 Parking)
Guidance and Case Studies
The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) developed Guidelines for the Regulation and Management of Shares Active Transportation.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recently published a new case study in its livability series highlighting how Seattle adopted dockless bike share and the manner in which the city successfully leveraged innovation in the private sector to improve mobility in the city.
Protecting Vulnerable Road Users
Bicyclists and pedestrians are inherently more vulnerable to injury than drivers of motor vehicles. Several local communities have ordinances to hold accountable reckless and negligent motorists who injure or kill a bicyclist or pedestrian.
Dallas: This law requires a motor vehicle shall pass a vulnerable road user at a safe distance (three feet if the operator’s vehicle is a passenger car, six feet if the operator’s vehicle is a truck or commercial motor vehicle). An operator or passenger of a motor vehicle may not throw any object at a vulnerable road user. An operator of a motor vehicle commits an offense if they overtake a vulnerable road user traveling in the same direction and subsequently makes a right-hand turn in front of the vulnerable road user unless the operator is safely clear of the vulnerable road user. (Chapter 28, Article VI, Sec. 28-58.2. Protection of Vulnerable Road Users)
Fort Worth: The same guidelines as Dallas, adding: An operator of a motor vehicle may not maneuver the vehicle in a manner that is intended to cause intimidation or harassment to a vulnerable road user. (Chapter 22, Article 3, Sec. 22-95. Safe Passing of Vulnerable Road Users )
The League of American Bicyclists provides information and model legislation on protecting vulnerable road users, including a model Safe Passing Law.
Riding on Sidewalks
There is no state law prohibiting riding a bicycle on sidewalks. However, various local governments prohibit bicycling on sidewalks in specific areas such as a central business district.
Dallas: It is lawful to ride a bicycle on a public sidewalk anywhere in the City of Dallas outside of the central business district. Bicycling on the sidewalks in the central business district is prohibited. If riding on a sidewalk, bicyclists shall yield to pedestrians and give an audible signal before overtaking and passing a pedestrian. (Chapter 9, Article I, Sec. 9-1. Applicability of Traffic Regulations to Bicycle Riders)
Garland: Bicycling is not allowed on sidewalks in commercial or business centers. (Chapter 26, Article IV, Sec. 26.40. Riding on Sidewalks)
This information should not be construed as legal advice. NCTCOG takes no responsibility for inaccuracies or omissions. Please contact an attorney for legal opinions or assistance related to bicycle and pedestrian transportation legislation. All information and links on this website are current as of January 2015.
Staff: Daniel Snyder