Frequently Asked Questions
What is a bikeway?
Bikeways are designated paths for bicycles. They can be bike lanes, bike routes or bike trails. There are many benefits to providing access to bikeways. Click here for related documentation.
What are bike lanes?
Bike lanes are designated on-street bicycle paths. They are striped, marked with a bicycle symbol on the pavement, and signed with a black and white Bikes Only sign. Vehicles are not allowed to continuously drive on this path.
What is a bike route?
A bike route is a designated on-street bicycle path that is not striped. The bike route is a shared lane with motor vehicles and is signed with a green Bike Route sign.
What is a bike trail?
A bike trail is a designated off-street bicycle path that travels through parks, along bayous or other designated public right-of-way. Bike trails are designated with a Bike Trail sign. Bike trails are usually shared with pedestrians and joggers.
How should I pass another cyclist?
The same traffic rules apply. If you are a cyclist, check behind you to make sure no vehicles are on the left lane. Use your hand signals to let other vehicles know your intentions. When passing the other cyclist, you can use an audible signal such as a bell or voice signal to let the other cyclist know you are "Passing". This avoids surprises. If you are a motorist you will be traveling on a separate lane. Remember to be aware of bicyclists traveling on the bike lane, especially when making a right turn. Signal to let all vehicles know your intentions. Be aware that bicyclists may travel outside of the bike lane if necessary.
On a shared road? If you are a bicyclist, the same traffic rules hold true for passing bicycles or other vehicles on a shared road. If you are a motorist remember that the bicycle is a vehicle too and has the right to occupy the full lane under certain conditions. You must pass on the left lane following the normal traffic rules.
Shared roads are not striped. A bicyclist and motorist can travel on the same lane. The striped lane separates a motorist lane and a bicyclist lane. In both cases, a bicyclist can take the full traffic lane if road hazards or concerns warrant it.
Do I have to wear a helmet?
Children 17 and under must wear a helmet. We strongly recommend everyone wear a properly fitting and approved helmet. Studies show that when falls or accidents occur, helmets can prevent 85% of bicyclist head injuries. Helmets are cool.
What happens when a bike lane ends?
What do I do when a bike lane ends and I have to keep going? Continue riding on following your intended route. Ride as far right as safe to do so. As vehicles, bicycles can travel on any roads where they are not restricted. Some examples of restricted roads are freeways, expressways, parkways, or other roadways as marked. Bicyclists must obey traffic laws and signal appropriately to notify other travelers of their intentions.
Can I park my car on the bike lane?
Maybe. Bike lanes are designated bicycle paths. Parking on bike lanes means that bicyclists must merge onto the traffic lane to pass the parked vehicle. In some areas parking is permitted as posted. Look for parking restriction signs.
Can I drive on the bike lane?
No. Bike lanes are designated bicycle only lanes. You can drive across a bike lane when making turns or exits. Always check for bicycle traffic before crossing these lanes.
Can I ride my bike on the sidewalk?
It is acceptable to ride on the sidewalk under certain conditions, except in a business zone. A business zone is the territory that includes the contiguous 600 ft. along the roadway where there are buildings in use for business or industrial purposes that occupy 300 feet collectively on both sides of the roadway. Remember that pedestrians have the right-of-way.
How can I get a bike map?
Our bikeway map is currently out of print. While handful of hard-copy maps may be available at local bike shops, there are several electronic options available to you.
This first link is to the Houston Bikeway Program website, you can download a PDF digital copy of our map, and if you are familiar with Adobe Acrobat, you can use the zoom tool to look at different sections of town. Page 2 is a zoomed layer of Downtown.
This second link is to the Google Traffic layer that displays all on and off-street bikeways in Houston, as well as bike-friendly roads as suggested by cyclists alike yourself. What is particularly helpful is that this web tool also provides a street-level view depicting roadways.
This third link is to the 'Bikeway Viewer' software developed by the Houston-Galveston Area Council. It's a very interesting tool that allows the user to create and print their own maps using data supplied by the government organizations within the 8 county region. I hope you find it useful.
This fourth link is to the My City Maps and Application pages. If you click on 'My City Map Viewer', a digital interactive map will appear. Please find the menu at the top of the screen that says 'My City Houston Map Viewer' and click upon the file folder icon. A small window will appear titled 'City Map Data', please click to expand the 'City Layers' data layer, then scroll to the bottom of the list and click upon 'Bikeways'. All Houston Bikeways will be highlighted upon the screen.
Do I need to have lights on my bike?
State law requires that you have a front light and a rear reflector. A blinking red light is advisable.
What About the left turn lane?
Bicyclists can use the left turn lane to make left turns. By obeying normal traffic laws and signaling their intentions, bicyclists can travel on the road as any other vehicle.
What do I do at a 4-way stop?
Follow normal traffic laws and stop. Whether you are a bicyclist or motorist, the first vehicle to arrive at the intersection, on your right, has the right-of-way.
Do I have to register my bike?
Bicycles no longer need to be registered with the City of Houston. However, we strongly advise you to record the serial number of your bicycle(s). In addition, taking photos of your bicycle(s) is also helpful. The information you provide is used by the Houston Police Department to locate your bicycle when lost or stolen.
Do bikeways help air quality?
One way is by providing opportunities for people to bicycle and walk. Another way is as a transportation control measure in the State Implementation Plan. This plan is how the ozone non-attainment region plans to meet healthful air quality standards. The Houston Bikeway Program is on target with meeting committed bikeway miles.