Road Rules: Bikes obey same regulations as cars

Cristhian Herrera, News Editor

On the north side of Culver St. in front of Whitley Hall. East Texan Photo | Cristhian Herrera

By Cristhian Herrera | News Editor

Everyone, at some point or another, has used a sidewalk to get from one point to another. Along this stretch of curving pavement, joggers, dog owners and every person in between have likely encountered others. Often, pedestrians will recognize each other’s presence by politely moving to the edge of the sidewalk so both can pass by. But what about bicycles, scooters and skateboards? Who has the right-of-way? Here’s what you need to know to avoid a ticket, and even an injury.

According to Texas state law, and Article XVI of A&M – Commerce’s rules and regulations on traffic and parking, bicycles are not allowed on sidewalks, walkways, lawns or inside any building unless permitted by the University Police Department.

State law classifies bicycles as vehicles and states that “a person operating a bicycle has the rights and duties applicable to a driver operating a vehicle.” This includes stopping at red lights and stop signs. This further means that a pedestrian facing a bicycle has the right-of-way on any sidewalk. It does not apply to scooters and skateboards because they are considered pedestrians.

Therefore, a bicycle should not be zipping past you on your morning jog and should only be operated on streets, roadways, bike paths and areas designated for cycling. Legally, those that break such laws could receive a citation.

However, this is not strictly enforced by UPD.

“It’s a touchy situation,” Lt. Jason Bone, TAMUC’s crime information officer, said. “We’re supposed to enforce the law but at the same time it’s one of those issues, for safety reasons, we’ve always overlooked the fact that people ride on the sidewalk.”

Although this regulation is commonly neglected, Bone said it could change in the future as the university expands and incorporates more bike lanes.

He emphasized two points on the issue: communication and crosswalks.  

Proper etiquette and communication with pedestrians on a sidewalk and two-ton vehicles on the road is vital to avoid a life-threatening situation.

To avoid such outcomes, cyclists and those riding scooters on sidewalks should communicate with pedestrians by calling out, “on your right/left,” and signaling to vehicles and others around.

“Most drivers aren’t expecting a bicycle to fly across a crosswalk. They’re looking for a person,” Bone said.

According to the state transportation code, pedestrians have the right-of-way at crosswalks. Not cyclists.

“It’s actually one of the most dangerous things you could do,” Bone said. “We do stop people from doing that. The proper thing to do is to dismount the bike and walk across the crosswalk.”