Bicycles are viewed as vehicles in the eyes of Texas law. This means that cyclists must obey many of the same rules and regulations as typical motor vehicle drivers. Bicyclists also have unique ordinances that apply only to them, such as bicycle equipment requirements and riding rules. Texas does not, however, have a law requiring all bicyclists to wear helmets. Instead, many local municipalities have their own helmet laws. Learn the law in your local area before you ride.
Bicycle Helmet Laws in Texas
Unlike many other states, Texas does not have a statewide or universal helmet law. There is no law in Texas that requires bicyclists of any age to wear helmets. It is legal for anyone to operate a bicycle without wearing a helmet in Texas unless there is a city or municipal law that says otherwise. Many cities and towns in Texas have passed their own bicycle helmet ordinances. As a cyclist, it is your responsibility to know these laws and abide by them if you bike within city limits. Some examples include:
- Arlington. Children under the age of 18 must wear helmets when riding bicycles in Arlington, but it is encouraged for all bicyclists to wear them.
- Austin. All children under the age of 18 must wear a helmet while riding on public property, including public parks and trails.
- Dallas. All bicycle riders and their passengers, regardless of age, must wear helmets in the City of Dallas when riding on public roads and trails.
- Houston. All children under the age of 14 must wear bicycle helmets when riding upon a bicycle or in a sidecar or seat attached to a bicycle.
Failing to comply with a local bicycle helmet law could result in a ticket and a fine. The fines and other penalties vary from city to city. Even if you don’t reside in the municipality and are just passing through, once you cross city limits, you are required to follow that city’s bicycle helmet law. Regardless of whether or not you are biking in a city in Texas that requires helmets, however, it is in your best interest to wear one.
Why You Should Wear a Bicycle Helmet Anyway
Every time you ride a bicycle in Texas, you are at risk of getting into an accident. There is a high number of distracted, negligent, and dangerous drivers on the road that may not see you on your bike. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, 79 cyclists died in fatal accidents in 2020 alone – a 16.18 percent increase from 2019. One of the most serious types of injuries associated with bicycle accidents is traumatic brain injury.
According to the National Safety Council, wearing a bicycle helmet can reduce the risk of a head injury by more than 50 percent. More than half of all bicyclists who were killed in accidents in a single year were not wearing helmets. Helmets protect the head and brain by absorbing the force of the impact rather than the skull taking the force. The padding and structure of a bicycle helmet can prevent skull fractures, concussions, and serious brain injuries.
In addition to safety reasons, wearing a bicycle helmet is wise for legal reasons. Even if your city does not require bicycle helmets, not wearing one could impact your personal injury claim. The defense may allege that you contributed to your injuries by failing to wear a helmet. This could lead to a reduction of the financial compensation that you are given from the at-fault party’s insurance provider.
Bicycle laws in Texas are complex and change from city to city. If you get into a bicycle accident with or without a helmet, consult with an experienced San Antonio bicycle accident lawyer for legal assistance.