May 9, 2021

Gp Delivers

The excellent automotive artisans

Bicycle takes on new meaning in Texas Capitol

Lawmakers are one stop closer to redefining what the word “bicycle” means in Texas, taking into account that the current definition has limits that leave some disabled riders on the wrong side of the law.

HB 3665, by Rep. Claudia Ordaz Perez, D-El Paso, would clean up the Texas Transportation Code, which now considers a bicycle to be any two-wheeled contraption that is not a moped and can be ridden. The bill passed the House Friday and is headed to the Texas Senate.

Bicycle is a critical word because so much traffic law includes references to bicycles and allows their operation on Texas streets.

The narrowness of the definition means the tricycles and hand-cranked bicycles some disabled cyclists use technically do not qualify, said Mike Osburn, a Gulf War wounded veteran who works with others to increase use of alternatives to conventional bicycles.

In comments to the House Transportation Committee on April 6, Osburn, who suffered a neck injury in 2001, said the changes “will make us feel safe knowing we are covered under the code.”

Ordaz Perez’s bill redefines bicycle as any human-powered device with at least two or more wheels, with at least one wheel being 14 inches in diameter or greater. As with the current definition, Ordaz Perez’s changes also specifically exclude mopeds.

Tweaking the meaning of bicycle does not come without concerns for some, however. Robin Stallings, executive director of the advocacy group Bike Texas, said earlier this month that though the bill is well-intentioned, advocates worry that loosening the definition could open the state up to vehicles that are not mopeds but have gas or electric motors that assist with pedaling. Advocates fear drivers will confuse motorized and non-motorized vehicles and lead to more stringent regulations for bicycles.

Friday, with the bill moving forward, Stallings said he was hopeful the language could continue to be edited, assuring it did not have unintended consequences.

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