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Ask 2: Why do people assume they can jog or ride a bicycle on the wrong side of the street heading into traffic?

A bicyclist on a road.
A bicyclist on a road. (Associated Press)

HOUSTONAt KPRC 2, we’re dedicated to keeping Houstonians informed. As part of our new Ask 2 series, the newsroom will answer your questions about all things Houston.

The question: “Why do people assume they can jog or ride a bicycle on the wrong side of the street heading into traffic?”

The answer: Channel 2 viewer Alan wrote us with this question. It’s an important one. Runners, bicyclists and drivers all need to share the road. And, considering that Houston is a city with extremely congested traffic, it’s good to know the rules of the road for bicyclists and runners, so here they are.

Regarding runners and walkers:

Texas State Transportation Code states that, if a sidewalk is available, runners and walkers must use the sidewalk. However, if a sidewalk is not available, they must use the left side of the road, or the shoulder of the road facing oncoming traffic. Like Alan, many people think pedestrians should occupy the right side of the road and move with the flow of traffic, but that is not correct!

Regarding bicyclists:

Unlike runners and walkers, bicyclists do need to ride on the right side of the road, with the flow of traffic. State and local laws dictate that bicycles are, essentially, treated as vehicles on the road and should follow the same laws. Some important points to remember:

  • Ride with traffic, never against it.
  • Obey all traffic signs and signals.
  • Ride as far to the right as is practical.
  • Use paved shoulders and bike lanes when possible.
  • Ride no more than two bicyclists abreast. If riding abreast impedes traffic flow, ride in a single file line.
  • Per Houston’s Code of Ordinances, “No person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk within a business district.”
  • When riding at night, you must have a lamp emitting white light on the front of your bike and a red reflector on the rear.
  • Always use hand signals.
  • Always wear a helmet.

For a comprehensive list of bicycling rules of the road, check out the TxDOT Guide to Safe Bicycling, the Houston Code of Ordinances, and the Bike Houston List of State Bicycling Laws.

Alan, I hope this helps to explain the rules of the road for bicyclists and runners!

Do you have a burning H-Town-related question? Send it our way, and we will try to hunt down an answer.

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