Ride Safety

Safe Riding Rules and Information

The TCC advocates for safe riding in all circumstances. This page includes the rules for safe riding adopted by the club, some general tips for safe riding on the road, and pertinent excerpts from the Texas Transportation Code relating to bicyclists.  Members should read familiarize themselves with all of these rules and guidelines to optimize the safety of themselves and others when participating in group rides. 

On this page, you’ll find:

Compulsory Riding Rules
Suggested Safety Precautions
General Ride Safety
Riding in a Group
Riding in a Pace Line
Hand Signals and Sound-off Definitions
Driving on an Improved Shoulder
Giving Hand & Arm Signals
General Operation
Operation on Roadway (Lane Use)
Safety Equipment
Competitive Racing

(Approved April 1, 2011)

These rules apply to safety issues that we consider to be among the most critical.  However, the information presented herein is not a complete list of riding and safety rules. Members are encouraged to be familiar with all bicycling regulations and safe riding guidelines, as contained in various publications, including the Texas Uniform Traffic Control Law. The Texas statute governs the operation of all vehicles operated on Texas public roads. A bicycle is considered to be a vehicle under Texas law.
Orderly, Predictable and Safe riding habits will enhance the motoring public’s perception of bicyclists thereby contributing to community goodwill and enhancing the Club’s public image.

1.   Be a member of the TCC or sign a waiver prior to the ride
2.   Wear a Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) approved helmet
3.   Following riders must never overlap the rear wheel of the rider in front
4.   Leave a safe distance between you and the next bicycle
      (at 15 mph you travel 22 feet per second)
5.   Ride in single-file (exception: brief periods, in very low traffic areas) 
6.   Ride as close as practical to the right edge of the roadway (usually within 3 feet)
7.   Pass another bicycle only on its left side. 
      Call out “on your left” to the rider you are passing
8.   Always use these standard turn signals.  Signal your intention to turn 100 feet prior to turning. Also state your intention verbally. For rider safety/control purposes, your signal need not be given continuously.
·      Right turn: up-lifted left arm, or right arm horizontal pointing to the right
·      Left turn: horizontal left arm pointing to the left 
·      Slowing: Extend left arm down, open palm facing back and wave your arm in a wig-wag motion
·      Stopping: Extend left arm down and open palm facing back.
9.    Turning, Slowing & Stopping: Prepare early! Be predictable! 
       Declare your intention!
10.  Turning Left: Aggressively move to the left and control your turning lane (give sufficient early signal) 
11.  Sound off on Danger: Audibly inform other riders of risks: e.g. “car back”, “car up”, “car left”, “car right”, etc. Indicate road hazards to other riders. Pass these warnings on up and down the line
12.  Do not use any audio equipment (exception: hearing aid)
13.  Pets are not allowed on a Club-organized ride.

1.   Please have a rear view mirror installed on your bicycle.
2.   Install front and rear lights if you plan to ride at night or in early morning fog. conditions.  For all TCC rides taking place near or after sundown, headlights and tail lights will be required. 
3.   Carry the name of a contact person, phone number and list of medications used.  We recommend wearing a RoadID© or carrying some form of ID and emergency contact information at all times. 
4.   Inform the ride leader of physical or medical issues that you may have.
5.   Aero Bars (racing handlebars) should not be used when riding in a group.
6.   Keep right pedal raised when immediately adjacent to an elevated curb.
7.   Keep inside pedal raised when coasting around a sharp bend in the road.

More Tips & Techniques for Safe Riding
General Ride Safety
Wear a Helmet!!!!The most important thing you can do for your own safety is wear a helmet. There is simply no excuse for not wearing a helmet. Your brain is a terrible thing to waste. You should make sure your helmet fits snuggly and securely without moving around on your head. Replace your helmet every few years. They do wear out. 
Drink Plenty of Water Be sure to drink plenty of water or other fluids while riding, especially in the summer. Many riders use a Camel Back which holds much more water than a water bottle and is safer to use. It is a good idea to drink some water before a ride. If you don’t have to pee during a ride, you are probably not drinking enough. 
Use Sunscreen You don’t want skin cancer. You really don’t. So apply a generous amount of sunscreen before riding, even in cloudy weather. 

Check Your Bike Check your bike before you start riding. Make sure the tires are properly inflated. Check the brakes and cables to be sure you can stop. Inspect the wheel looking for broken spokes or worn spots on the tire. Maybe lubricate the chain once in a while. 
Signals Bicycles are required to obey the same laws and signals as motor vehicles. You should stop at traffic lights and stop signs. You should use hand signals to let other cyclists and motorists know your intentions.   

Be Seen
Most regular cyclists would agree with John Forester, author of “Effective Cycling” that cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles. As a general rule, you should not do anything that you would not do when you are driving your car.Make yourself as visible as possible and be predictable in your actions. Making eye contact with drivers of other vehicles can help you establish your position and communicate to them what your intentions are.

Riding in a Group

Stay to the Right 
Riders in a group will often take up an entire lane. This is fine, but make sure you leave room for cars to pass around the group by staying as far to the right as possible. Some drivers get angry at cyclists and provoking them does no one any good. 

Move Around Gradually 
If you need to move to the left or right in order to avoid an obstacle in the road or to pass another rider, do it slowly and gradually, giving others time to react. 

Call Out Road Hazards 
Call out and point to potholes, road-kills, cracks in the road, and obstacles ahead. Turning around to look behind you also can disrupt the riders around you. Many riders have a tendency to swerve in the direction they are looking. 

Brake Carefully 
Don’t brake suddenly. Your following riders may not be able to react as fast as you. It goes without saying you should have your hands close to the brake levers for a short response time whenever you ride in a group.  The rule is that if you hit a rider from behind, shame on you!

Riding in a Pace-line

Ride a Straight Line 
The key here is to be predictable not only for the other folks in the pace-line, but also in traffic because it may prevent you from becoming a hood ornament. You can practice by trying to ride right alongside the white shoulder line when riding alone. 

Maintain a Steady Speed
Your goal is to leave a “clean” steady wheel that others behind you can follow easily and trust. Focus on maintaining a steady cadence and let your gears do the work. Its natural to slow for hills and headwinds. It just takes practice and a quick glance at your electronics. 

Good communication is the key to safety when riding in a pace-line. Let the riders in front of you know that you are on their right or left so that they will not be turning across your front wheel at the worst possible time. 

Look Ahead
Avoid focusing in on the rear wheel of the rider in front of you. Also, avoid riding directly behind the wheel in front. Try to ride a few inches to the right or if necessary (depending on wind direction) to the left of the rider in front of you without overlapping wheels. This allows you to view road conditions ahead and gives you extra time to react should the rider in front suddenly slow down. Always plan to have a way out if anything happens up front, even if it means going off-road.  

Signal When Pulling Off the Front
Signal your intent to give up the “pull” by wiggling either your hand or your elbow on the side you want the rider behind to come through on. Just before pulling off, give it three hard pedal strokes to insure the rider behind is not overlapped, and then dont slow down until you have moved off to the right or left. Move over gradually, and do not swerve quickly.

Hand Signals and Sound-Off Definitions

Unofficial hand signals are also used to point out obstacles in the road so that the riders behind you can avoid them.  Typically the front riders will point down to the right or down to the left to signal what side the obstacle is on.  Each rider following gives the same signal to warn the riders further back in the group.

Obstacles include: holes, large cracks, loose gravel, and joggers.

car back” = A car is approaching from behind. This usually means you should get single-file to allow the car to pass.
car up” = A car is approaching from front. This is typically used to warn of a car that may be entering from a side street ahead.  On approach it is a good idea to waive at the driver to make sure they see you and do not pull out in front of you and the group. Get their attention! We have all seen drivers that will look right at you and still pull out like they never saw you. A good technique to make sure they have seen you is to wave like you know them and wait for them to wave back.
clear left/clear right” = When crossing a street with a group, the front riders announce that the road is clear to cross or enter the intersection.
all clear” = Once the entire group has made it through an intersection the last rider announces that everyone has made it safely through.
DOG!!!” = Be alert that a dog or dogs are approaching. Most dogs won’t get too close to a big group, but usually yelling “GO HOME!” or “SIT!” or squirting them with your water bottle stops them. Otherwise get ready for the riders around you to pick up the pace suddenly.


The following are excerpts of pertinent state and local laws pertaining to the operations of bicycles on public roadways. Remember: a cyclist is subject to all of the laws – these are just some of the portions of the code that are of particular interest to cyclists. 

In the state of Texas a bicycle is considered equivalent to a motor vehicle and subject to the same laws that apply to motor vehicles, with a few exceptions where special rules apply to bicyclists. In most cases, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists and are subject to the same citations a motorist would receive for violating traffic laws. This means that cyclists must stop at all red lights and stop signs, signal when turning and stopping, yield right-of-way when law requires it – and by all meansNO SPEEDING! 

Driving on Improved Shoulder 

(A) An operator may drive on an improved shoulder to the right of the main traveled portion of a roadway if the operation is necessary and may be done safely, but only: 
   (1) to stop, stand, or park; 
   (2) to accelerate before entering the main traveled lane of traffic;      
   (3) to decelerate before making a right turn; 
   (4) to pass another vehicle that is slowing or stopped on the main traveled portion of the highway, disabled, or preparing to make a left turn; 
   (5) to allow another vehicle traveling faster to pass; 
   (6) as permitted or required by an official traffic-control device or 
   (7) to avoid a collision. 
(B) An operator may drive on an improved shoulder to the left of the main traveled portion of a divided or limited access or controlled access highway if that operation may be done safely, but only: 
   (1) to slow or stop when the vehicle is disabled and traffic or other circumstances prohibit the safe movement of the vehicle to the right of the main traveled portion of the roadway; 
   (2) as permitted or required by an official traffic control device, or; 
   (3) to avoid a collision.
(C) A limitation in this section on driving on an improved shoulder does not apply to
  (1) an authorized emergency vehicle responding to a call; 
  (2) a police patrol, or;  
  (3) a bicycle.  

Section 545.107 Method of Giving Hand and Arm Signals 
An operator who is permitted to give a hand and arm signal shall give the signal from the left side of the vehicle as follows:  
(1) to make a left turn signal, extend hand and arm horizontally; 
(2) to make a right turn signal, extend hand and arm upward, except that a bicycle operator may signal from the right side of the vehicle with the hand and arm extended horizontally; and 
(3) to stop or decrease speed, extend left hand and arm downward.  

Section 551.102 General Operation 
(A) A person operating a bicycle shall ride only on or astride a permanent and regular seat attached to the bicycle. 
(B) A person may not use a bicycle to carry more persons than the bicycle is equipped to carry. 
(C) A person operating a bicycle may not use his bicycle to carry an object that prevents the person from operating the bicycle with at least one hand on the handlebars of the bicycle. 
(D) A person operating a bicycle, coaster, sled, or toy vehicle or using roller skates may not attach either the person or the bicycle, coaster, sled, toy vehicle, or roller skates to a streetcar or vehicle on a roadway.  

Section 551.103 Operation on Roadway 
(A) Except as provided by Subsection (8)*, a person operating a bicycle on a roadway who is moving slower than the other traffic on the roadway shall ride as near as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway, unless: 
   (1) the person is passing another vehicle moving in the same direction; 
   (2) the person is preparing to turn left at an intersection or into a private road or driveway; or 
   (3) a condition on or of the roadway, including a fixed or moving object, parked or moving vehicle, pedestrian, animal, surface hazard, or substandard width lane, prevents the person from safely riding next to the right curb or edge of the roadway. 
*(8) A person operating a bicycle on a one-way roadway with two or more marked traffic lanes may ride as near as practicable to the left curb or edge of roadway. (C) Persons operating a bicycle on a roadway may ride two abreast. Persons riding two abreast on a laned roadway shall ride in a single lane. Persons riding two abreast may not impede the normal and reasonable flow of traffic on the roadway. Persons may not ride more than two abreast unless they are riding on a part of a roadway set aside for the exclusive operation of bicycles. 
(0) In this section, “substandard width lane” means a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a motor vehicle to safely travel in the lane side by side. 

Section 551.104 Safety Equipment 
(A) A person may not operate a bicycle unless the bicycle is equipped with a brake capable of making a braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement. 
(B) A person may not operate a bicycle at nighttime unless the bicycle is equipped with: 
   (1) a lamp on the front of the bicycle that emits a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet in front of the bicycle; and 
   (2) a red reflector on the rear of the bicycle that is: 
       (a) of a type approved by the department; and 
       (b) visible when directly in front of lawful upper beams of motor vehicle headlamps from all distances from 50 to 300 feet to the rear of the bicycle. 
(C) In addition to the rear reflector required by Subsection (B), a person operating a bicycle at nighttime may use a lamp on the rear of the bicycle that emits a red light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear of the bicycle.

Section 551.105 Competitive Racing 
(A) In this section, “bicycle” means a non motorized vehicle propelled by human power. 
(B) A sponsoring organization may hold a competitive bicycle race on a public road only with the approval of the appropriate local law enforcement agencies. 
(C) The local law enforcement agencies and the sponsoring organization may agree on safety regulations governing the movement of bicycles during a competitive race or during training for a competitive race, including the permission for bicycle operators to ride abreast.