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Bicycling at UT and in Austin

Austin is a “Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Community” and UT is a “Bicycle Friendly University”, according to the League of American Bicyclists. In a climate like that in central Texas, riding a bicycle is a real pleasure most of the year. (July, August, and September can be a bit warm, however!) Since parking a bike is free and relatively easy, and there are no schedules which dictate your time as with a bus, there are definite advantages to two-wheeling. Note that the city of Austin has a high number of bike thefts – be sure to lock your bike with something that's not easily picked or cut through.

Be Safe

Every year, 2 to 3 bicyclists are killed in Austin, usually by cars hitting them.

  • Take a look at the excellent guide How to Not Get Hit by Cars. Be particularly watchful when entering a street or when near a possibly turning car. They tend not to look for bikes.
  • Get bright (front and back) lights for night riding and a loud horn or bell (that can be heard inside a car).
  • Don't ride with headphones on!
  • A helmet will help protect your head in a fall.

When car divers are at fault in an accident, most are caused by the diver simply not paying attention and not seeing the bicyclist. BE SAFE: Do everything you can to make yourself more noticeable, and ride as if the cars didn't know you are there.

When bicycles are at fault in an accident, most are caused by the bicyclist crossing in the way of a car. BE SAFE: Whenever you approach an intersection or are near a car, be watchful and slow down.


GDC Bike Storage Room

UTCS grad students, faculty, and staff may request access to the secure bicycle storage and shower rooms located on the basement (level 1) of the GDC building. Write to gripe@cs for more info.


UT requires that all bicycles on campus be registered. Their bicycle registration program is intended to help police in recovering stolen bicycles and as a deterrent to would-be thieves. Registration is free and on-line. Just go to the My Parking Profile, log in, and click “Register Bicycle” at the bottom of the page, fill in the info, and a sticker will be mailed to you. (If you want to get a sticker in person, go to “The Kickstand” kiosk (East Mall at Speedway), or the Trinity Garage (TRG) Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m..)

Texas Bicycle Laws

  • All “car” rules of the road apply to bicycles when ridden on streets – this includes Stop signs, Traffic lights, Right-of-way, “Road closed” signs, etc.
  • Brakes must be good enough to “making a braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement”.
  • If you're not riding as fast as the cars on a street, you must ride “as near as practicable” to the right edge of the street, except:
    • If you're in the outside lane, and it's not safe to have cars pass you, you can block the lane.
    • When you're turning left, you can move into a position to do so safely.
    • When you're riding side-by-side with another bicyclist.
    • On a one-way street, you can ride near the left or right edge of the street.
  • Note that in Texas, bicycles are allowed to use the shoulders of a road even when other vehicles are not allowed.
  • Riding at night requires a white light on front and red light on back of your bike which is visible for 500 feet (150 meters). (Night here means 30 minutes after sunset through 30 minutes before sunrise.)
  • Whenever you “turn, change lanes, or start from a parked position”, you must signal with by extending you hand and arm to the left or right, as appropriate. When you stop or suddenly decrease speed, signal by extending your hand and arm downward.


Austin City Ordinances

  • Don't park your bicycle in a car parking space. You can park in a rack, at a curb, or against a building.
  • Cars are supposed to yield to bicycle lanes, but don't bet on this.
  • Cars cannot drive in bicycle lanes, except to make a turn. Oddly, however, cars can park in bicycle lanes.
  • Austin, unlike UT, allows bicycles on sidewalks, except for the drag and certain downtown streets. Note that riding on sidewalks is usually more dangerous than the street. Bikes can't use the sidewalks on:
    • 100-1199 Congress Ave.
    • 1900-2599 Guadalupe St.
    • 100-1199 Brazos St.
    • 200-1199 Colorado St.
    • 299 W. Second St. to 299 E. Second St.
    • 999 W. Fifth St. to the 899 E. Fifth St.
    • 1999 W. Sixth St. to 799 E. Sixth St.
    • 199 W. Eighth St. to the 299 E. Eighth St.
    • 199 W. Ninth St. to the 299 E. Ninth St.
    • 299 W. 11th St. to the 299 E. 11th St.
    • 299 W. 15th St. to the 299 E. 15th St.

UT Bike Regulations

  • The campus speed limit of 15 mph applies to bicyclists, too.
  • Bicyclists may not ride on sidewalks.
  • Bicyclists must yield to pedestrians.
  • All bicycles on campus must be registered.
  • Bicycles secured to anything other than a bicycle rack or locker are considered improperly parked and can be cut free, impounded, and sold at auction.
  • Bicycles are not allowed in any building unless stored in an area (office, storage room) approved by the appropriate building supervisor or department chair.


Helmets are not required by law. Bike stores try to sell stupidly expensive (and unsafe) helmets. Get a helmet that is smooth and roughly bowl-shaped, not one with rims or wings sticking out – those cause the helmet to pry off when you hit something. The best crash-test rating helmet I've ever seen cost $12. (No longer available, but the point is price does not correlate to safety. Perhaps even the inverse.) UT carries reasonably priced helmets at the Kickstand and the Student Health Center Pharmacy.


Apparently, bike theft is quite rampant in Austin and at UT in particular. Get a good U-lock, not a traditional cable lock.

"The Kickstand"

“The Kickstand” is a kiosk on the UT East Mall at Speedway that has bike supplies (helmets, locks, handpumps, lights, tubes, patch kits, bike lube, water bottles, etc.) and will let you use their air pump and tools. They also can register your bike and give you maps and other info.

Other Sites

bicycling.txt · Last modified: 2018/10/17 12:52 by jthywiss