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Old 01-31-12, 11:14 PM   #1
kimberlein
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"No bicycles allowed on the street" in Memorial Villages (Houston)

Two of my riding buddies were riding road bikes from George Bush Park to Memorial Park, and back to Bush again. While riding through Memorial Villages (Bunker Hill/Piney Point/Hunter's Creek), they were pulled over by a police car and told that bicycles are not allowed "on the street" in Memorial Villages. They were told (by the MV Policeman) they would have to ride on the sidewalk.*Subjective, but relevant data: the officer came across as self-important/disrespectful/condescending.

So why post this? It made my blood boil (for a number of reasons), and it would satisfy me to hear even one person say, "That is TERRible! Clearly, bad and wrong Hate has happened!!!!"

But also, if any of you know any non-hate-related reasons for such an ordinance +/- officer's poor social skills, I would like to read them... it might make me feel better.
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Old 02-01-12, 11:23 AM   #2
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Local governments can ban bicycles from certain roads under their jurisdiction, but certain things must happen before these bans become effective -- in particular, there needs to be signs, and for minimum speed regulations (which could prevent the use of a road by a bicycle if they were determined to apply to bicycles too -- which some court cases in other places have said they do not, but I'm not sure if anything applies here) there needs to also be a study. Relevant laws could be --

284.071. CONTROLLED ACCESS TO TOLL ROAD.
545.065. STATE AND LOCAL REGULATION OF LIMITED-ACCESS OR CONTROLLED-ACCESS HIGHWAYS
545.0651. RESTRICTION ON USE OF HIGHWAY
545.363. MINIMUM SPEED REGULATIONS.

I don't live near Houston and am not at all familiar with the local laws there, but my guess is that either 1) there is no such restriction and the officer is flat out wrong, or 2) if there is a restriction, it doesn't jive with Texas law. (If there's no signs, it can't jive with Texas law.)

My advice to you would be to contact a local bicycling advocacy group and see what they say. Here in Austin I'd say the LOBV would be a good place to start -- maybe Houston has something similar?
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Old 02-01-12, 09:39 PM   #3
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Here you go.

http://library.municode.com/index.aspx?clientId=12277

Or go to Municode.com > Texas > Bunker Hill Village > Type "Bycycle" into the search bar. The first option listed is the correct city code.

Sec. 9-131. - Bicycle paths—When use required.
Wherever a useable public path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a public street, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the public street.
(Ord. No. 317, 1, 9-8-87)



Sec. 9-132. - Same—Posting signs.
The director of public works is directed to post signs giving notice of the requirements of section 9-131.
(Ord. No. 317, 2, 9-8-87)



So, as long as signs are posted and a path has been provided, it is a violation of city code to ride in the street.



Interestingly enough, my city has a code against riding bicycles on the sidewalk.
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Old 02-01-12, 09:54 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by dougmc View Post
Local governments can ban bicycles from certain roads under their jurisdiction, but certain things must happen before these bans become effective -- in particular, there needs to be signs, and for minimum speed regulations (which could prevent the use of a road by a bicycle if they were determined to apply to bicycles too -- which some court cases in other places have said they do not, but I'm not sure if anything applies here) there needs to also be a study. Relevant laws could be --

284.071. CONTROLLED ACCESS TO TOLL ROAD.
545.065. STATE AND LOCAL REGULATION OF LIMITED-ACCESS OR CONTROLLED-ACCESS HIGHWAYS
545.0651. RESTRICTION ON USE OF HIGHWAY
545.363. MINIMUM SPEED REGULATIONS.

I don't live near Houston and am not at all familiar with the local laws there, but my guess is that either 1) there is no such restriction and the officer is flat out wrong, or 2) if there is a restriction, it doesn't jive with Texas law. (If there's no signs, it can't jive with Texas law.)

My advice to you would be to contact a local bicycling advocacy group and see what they say. Here in Austin I'd say the LOBV would be a good place to start -- maybe Houston has something similar?
The laws posted here don't apply for local roads, they are for freeways, toll roads and the sorts (45, 10, 610, toll roads, etc.). Controlled Access Highways have 40 mph minimum and 60-70 mph maximums, on and off ramps and not FM, Co type roads.
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Old 02-01-12, 10:08 PM   #5
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Interesting stuff... thanks everybody, for the information. I really do appreciate it and it does make me feel better.
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Old 02-01-12, 10:15 PM   #6
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Welcome to the future.
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Old 02-02-12, 06:31 AM   #7
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Welcome to the future.
Texas had a mandatory sidepath law through most of the 1970s, although it's been since the early 1980s that this was state law. There were no design requirements for what constituted a bike path, so back then cities and towns could declare even their narrowest, bumpiest sidewalks without curb cuts to be bike paths and legislate bikes off the streets. A year or so ago I saw that some of the four decade old signs to this effect were still up in Nacogcoches.
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Old 02-02-12, 09:22 AM   #8
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Texas had a mandatory sidepath law through most of the 1970s, although it's been since the early 1980s that this was state law.
I don't know what the law looked like in the 1970s or 1980s, but the State of Texas does not have a mandatory sidepath law now and has not had one for at least several years.

(Or is that what you were trying to say, and just weren't very clear?)
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Old 02-02-12, 09:39 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by tertius View Post
Sec. 9-131. - Bicycle paths—When use required.
Wherever a useable public path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a public street, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the public street.
[LEFT] (Ord. No. 317, 1, 9-8-87)

Sec. 9-132. - Same—Posting signs.
The director of public works is directed to post signs giving notice of the requirements of section 9-131.
[LEFT] (Ord. No. 317, 2, 9-8-87)

So, as long as signs are posted and a path has been provided, it is a violation of city code to ride in the street.
OK, but sidewalks are not "public paths for bicycles" -- they're primarily intended for use by pedestrians, though bicycles may or may not be prohibited from using them. (This city doesn't seem to prohibit it.)

This purpose of this clause would seem to be to force cyclists to use bike lanes or MUPs. It also makes no allowances for things like unusable bike paths or left turns and the like -- a bad law indeed. Though a bike lane is *part* of the street, so maybe they really are only forcing cyclists to use adjacent "hike and bike paths"? (Though I doubt it.)

Though it really does sound like the police (and possibly local lawmakers) want you on the sidewalk, and the courts would probably back them up on that unless possibly if they were confronted with a well prepared lawyer when somebody was contesting their ticket. Sounds pretty crappy.
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Old 02-02-12, 03:08 PM   #10
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i've noticed those signs on Memorial Drive before, still see people riding on those roads every now and then. it would help if they'd put a bike lane in, but seeing the bike lanes around the Memorial area i'd rather just ride in the middle of the road anyway. bike lanes are VERY narrow and full of debris. i've had to confine my rides to Terry Hershey and George Bush parks.
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Old 02-02-12, 03:57 PM   #11
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This looks like an opportunity for Critical Mass.
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Old 02-08-12, 10:36 AM   #12
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i live near the Villages and ride through occasionally, usually at low traffic times of day. there are wide sidewalks and signs posted, so they follow that part of the law.
so far i haven't had issues with police despite seeing a couple while riding. if i ever get pulled over i will try to explain that going 20+ mph on the sidewalk is a lot more dangerous than going 20+ on the street. i'll take my chances riding with the traffic flow on the road rather than chance getting smacked by someone pulling out of a driveway or sidestreet.
i interpret the law to be directed at non-vehicular cyclists, such as kids riding to/from school, and recreational riders who go 8-12mph. ie. those who don't heed traffic laws or ride as consciously as a semi-serious roadie like me would. of course that is not to the letter of the law, but enforcement is the main indicator of the spirit of the law.
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