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Can I ride my bicycle on the shoulder of a road that has a "do not drive on shoulder" sign in Texas?

Below is an example of this configuration.

By far, the shoulder seems like the safest option to use here.

However, according to the traffic laws in Texas it seems that bicycle travel on a shoulder with this sign is prohibited for bicycles as well:

The DO NOT DRIVE ON SHOULDER (R4-3a) sign (see Figure 2B-8) may be used on roadways with usable shoulders where an engineering study determines that an area of the shoulder should not be used by moving vehicles.

So, is it really prohibited to ride a bicycle on a shoulder if a "do not drive on shoulder" sign is present?

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  • 1
    As you ride a bike and do not drive it, legally you have a fairly robust defense if you get a ticket.
    – mattnz
    Mar 13, 2022 at 2:18
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    I have no idea about US road laws, but here in Austria a bicycle is a road vehicle like any other with a few special rights and restrictions (similar to e.g. horse carriages, mopeds). You’d definitely have to stay on the left side of the continuous white line. From a moral standpoint it’s also the right thing to do. Imagine if a car driver would use the shoulder to bypass a traffic jam. You’d be rightfully outraged because this is not a 3 lane road.
    – Michael
    Mar 13, 2022 at 6:32
  • 3
    Honestly? Find a nicer route to ride on. That road looks awful for bikes.
    – Criggie
    Mar 13, 2022 at 7:50
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    Why traffic is not allowed? If it is the equivalent of an emergency lane, reserved for emergency and police vehicles, then a bicycle would not be a big issue. In case of heavy traffic a car could not easily go back to the main lane if an emergency vehicle appeared, while a cyclist could easily stand aside.
    – FluidCode
    Mar 13, 2022 at 10:24
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    @mattnz As you ride a bike and do not drive it, legally you have a fairly robust defense if you get a ticket. That's not likely at all: "Every person riding a bicycle ... on a highway shall be subject to the provisions of this chapter and shall have all of the rights and duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle, unless the context of the provision clearly indicates otherwise." So saying, "But I was on a bicycle" isn't going to work in general. Mar 13, 2022 at 13:11

2 Answers 2

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Yes, it's fine.

You're heading north on Loop 360 in Austin, Texas. You might actually run into me or any number of roadies out there. Your main problems will be crap people throw on the shoulder; and getting yelled at by bros in pickups.

Velo on!

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  • Well spotted! It is indeed Loop 360 near the Pennybacker Bridge. If you feel like giving a couple extra tips about this area I'd love to hear your thoughts about one or two follow-up questions. Trying to plan a possible bike commute route but loop 360 and the adjacent roads are giving me nightmares.
    – undercat
    Mar 14, 2022 at 4:41
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I’m not a lawyer, but in the photo you presented, I’d do it. Since it’s cited as an reason found by an “engineering study”, I suppose the issue is that the shoulder can’t take the weight of motor vehicles driving right on the edge. Assuming you and your bike weighs less than half a car, it should be alright. I’d be quite concerned if your local road shoulders disintegrate after a few cyclists ride on them.

Edit: also, I would like to note the photo is of a decently sized highway. It wouldn't be safe to ride in the car lanes here regardless. Let's not even mention the fact it is on a downhill slope and car speeds are likely to be extra high.

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    Are you sure that the shoulder surface is the issue? In my country that shoulder would be used as emergency lane reserved for emergency and police vehicles.
    – FluidCode
    Mar 13, 2022 at 10:20
  • @FluidCode To my eyes, the shoulder appears to be too narrow to drive on. You’d either be driving with two wheels on the grass, or two wheels in the travel lane. Also, I’m not sure what country you come from, but in my native Canada at least, emergency vehicles stick to the travel lanes. I’d assume it’s the same in the US (and have seen that when I cross the border).
    – MaplePanda
    Mar 13, 2022 at 22:51
  • @FluidCode here in the States, shoulders are only used by emergency vehicles when the road is totally blocked by other traffic and they have no other option. When flashing lights appear behind you, you, the non-emergency vehicle, are supposed to pull as far onto to the shoulder as possible (even putting wheels off into gravel/grass) as possible to give the emergency vehicle the right-of-way on the road. If someone is going to get stuck in mud/snow/ditch at the side of the road, better Joe Average than the ambulance.
    – FreeMan
    Mar 14, 2022 at 18:29
  • The fact it is on a downhill slope means my bike speeds are likely to be extra high too... :-D
    – Michael
    Mar 14, 2022 at 19:41
  • In southern California, emergency vehicles tend to use the shoulder and cars move as far into the lane as they can to allow them to pass if it's narrow.
    – mkennedy
    Mar 14, 2022 at 22:22

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