While biking can be a great way to save time and money on campus, it can be dangerous if you don’t take the time to learn some basic rules of the road.
When I first moved to Texas in 2009, I began riding bicycles out of necessity because I didn’t have a car. At first I used my bike to ride around neighborhood parks and bicycle paths.
Before long, I learned my way to navigate through traffic and ride side-by-side with cars. These days, I primarily use my bicycle to get to class or work at the library. While riding around, I notice other student riders on campus and the risks that they put themselves in without ever knowing.
When you begin riding your bicycle around campus or anywhere in the Metroplex, you should take some times to learn how to ride safely without breaking the law. There are countless instructional videos on YouTube and other streaming sites that students can use to familiarize themselves with basic bicycle safety and Texas law.
Some of the most common risks include riding on the wrong side of the road and going against traffic or running stop signs and red lights. Reaction time is reduced when riding against traffic, making the action a risky mistake, and running a stop sign or light could land you with a citation. According to Texas law, bicycles have the same rights and duties as other vehicles and so should act as such. Since a bicycle is considered a vehicle, students riding on the street should make sure to ride in the same direction as traffic and obey all traffic control signs or lights, just like driving.
Often traffic lights cannot sense bicycles, so treat them as four-way stops when there is no other traffic — there are no laws against doing it, so it may be worth a try when you encounter lights like that.
Not all roads are equal, especially around UTA’s campus. Some roads may lack proper bike lanes be too uneven to safely ride on. In these cases, it may be safer just to use any available nearby sidewalks instead of risking it.
Many students that ride around on campus often do so without lights or a helmet. At night, when visibility is low and there aren’t many bicyclists, traveling without either of these things can be a death wish.
Under Texas law, bicycles are required to have a minimum of one front light and one rear reflector at all times. Although wearing a helmet is not required by law, it is highly recommended a cyclist wear one to prevent head injuries or worse in the event of an accident. Some cities have their own bicycle laws that require more than the state in terms of precautions. Arlington, and most of the surrounding cities, require bicycles to have a rear light in addition to the rear reflector. To be safe, I added extra reflectors to the spokes of my tires so that I can be seen from the side, increasing my visibility. Since I ride around a lot at night, I found that it is most convenient to have a front light that plugs into a power bank’s USB port and a rear light with a rechargeable battery.
Whether you’re currently riding a bicycle or considering picking it up, think of it as if you were buying a car. You wouldn’t buy a car without first knowing how to drive according to state laws, would you?
Take some time to learn the fundamentals and rules of bicycling.
Be safe when you hit that pavement.