Code of The City of Falls Church, Virginia

Chapter 20 Motor Vehicles and Traffic


Sec. 20-52. “Bicycles” defined.

A “bicycle” is a device upon which any person may ride, propelled by human power through a belt, chain or gears, and having two (2) or three (3) wheels in a tandem or tricycle arrangement. “Bicycle” shall also include pedal bicycles with helper motors rated less than one (1) brake horsepower, which produce only ordinary pedaling speeds up to a maximum of twenty (20) miles per hour; provided, that such bicycles so equipped shall not be operated upon any highway or public vehicular area of the city by any person under the age of sixteen (16) years; provided, further, that no such bicycles so equipped shall be operated upon any public sidewalk or bike trail in the city.

(Ord. No. 858; Ord. No. 952)

Sec. 20-53. License and registration.

  1. An owner may voluntarily register his bicycle with the city.

  2. Application for registration of ownership and a license will be made to the city upon a form prescribed by the city manager.

  3. The application shall be accompanied by a fee of fifty cents ($0.50), to be paid into the city treasury upon the granting of the license. Upon receipt of such application in proper form, the city shall provide, at the expense of the city, an identification bearing the number of the license issued, which should be securely attached, at the time of issuance or upon receipt, to the bicycle.

  4. It shall be the duty of the city manager or his designee to keep a record of the issuance of each bicycle license, showing the registration number and license number of each bicycle, the name and address of the licensee and such other description of the bicycle as the city manager deems necessary for the administration of this section.

(Ord. No. 858)

Sec. 20-54. Defacing or removing serial numbers.

  1. It shall be unlawful for any person to deface, modify or remove from any bicycle the serial number imprinted thereon.

  2. It shall be unlawful to sell or purchase any bicycle on which the serial number or identification number has been defaced or removed without first registering same as provided in section 20-53.

(Ord. No. 858)

Sec. 20-55. Equipment requirements.

  1. No person shall operate a bicycle on streets, sidewalks and bikeways unless it is equipped with coaster or hand brakes in good working condition.

  2. Every bicycle operated upon any street, highway, sidewalk or bikeway during darkness or other periods of restricted visibility shall be equipped, or the operator of such a bicycle shall be equipped, with a front lamp emitting a white light visible from a distance of five hundred (500) feet in front of the bicycle and with a red reflector of a type approved by the superintendent of the department of state police, which shall be visible in clear weather from fifty (50) feet to three hundred (300) feet to thereafter when directly in front of lawful upper beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle. A lamp emitting a red light visible in clear weather from a distance of five hundred (500) feet to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector.

(Ord. No. 858; Ord. No. 1454, 10-12-93)

Sec. 20-56. Establishment and regulation of bicycle paths.

  1. The existing and approved bikeways within the city which have been established by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority or by the city, and any bikeways which are in the future established by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority or the city, are hereby established as the bikeways of the city.

  2. The use of such off-street bikeways and/or any sidewalk by any person operating vehicles other than bicycles is unlawful. “Vehicle” as used herein means any motorized vehicle powered by an internal combustion engine, electrical motor or other electrical device. The prohibition of this section shall not apply to city or park authority vehicles entering the off-street bikeways for maintenance, fire and police patrol purposes.

The prohibitions of this section do not apply to vehicles being used by persons with disabilities when such use is necessary because of the handicapped condition of the person using such vehicle.

(Ord. No. 858; Ord. No. 1454, 10-12-93)

Sec. 20-57. Riding and parking regulations.

Every person riding a bicycle upon a bikeway, sidewalk, street, highway or roadway has all the rights and is subject to all the duties applicable to the driver of a motor vehicle except those provisions which by their very nature can have no application. Additionally, every such person shall comply with the following:

  1. Speed. No bicycle shall be operated faster than is reasonable and proper, but every bicycle shall be operated with reasonable regard for the safety of the operator and every other person upon the streets, sidewalks, highways, roadways, and bikeways of the city.

  2. Observation of traffic regulations. Every person riding a bicycle in the city shall observe all authorized traffic signs, signals and traffic control devices. Whenever signs are erected indicating that no right or left or U-turn is permitted, no person operating a bicycle shall disobey the direction of any such signs, except where such persons dismount from the bicycle to make any such movements or turns, in which event such a person shall then obey the regulation applicable to pedestrians.

  3. Stop signs. All persons operating a bicycle shall stop at all stop signs.

  4. Riding with the traffic flow. Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practical, exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle or one (1) proceeding in the same direction.

  5. Riding on handlebars. No person operating a bicycle shall permit any person to ride on the handlebars.

  6. Interference with control. No person operating a bicycle shall carry any package, bundle, or article which prevents him from keeping at least one (1) hand firmly upon the handlebars and in full control of the bicycle.

  7. Hitching rides. No person riding upon any bicycle shall attach the same or himself to any vehicle on the roadway.

  8. Riding abreast. Bicycles shall be ridden or operated in a single file, except when overtaking a slower moving bicycle, and except on bikeways set aside for the use of bicycles.

  9. Riding on sidewalk. Persons of any age may ride a bicycle upon any sidewalk, except as otherwise prohibited in section 20-58, and except in those areas designated as unsafe by the city manager because of the narrowness of the sidewalk, slope of the sidewalk, number of pedestrians customarily using the sidewalk or potential vehicle conflict.

  10. Pedestrian right-of-way. Whenever any person shall ride a bicycle on the sidewalk or bikeway, whether paved or unpaved, such person shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and shall give an audible signal before overtaking and passing any pedestrian.

  11. Bicycle lane. Where the city council has by ordinance designated a lane for the exclusive use of bicycles, a motor vehicle may enter or cross this lane for the purpose of access to adjacent property or for the purpose of parking, but a motor vehicle shall not be driven in this lane.

  12. Parking. No person shall stand or park a bicycle upon the street, highway, or roadway other than upon the street, highway, or roadway against the curb. No person shall stand or park a bicycle upon the sidewalk or bikeway other than in a rack to support the bicycle, or against the building, or at the curb, or at the back edge of the sidewalk. This will be done in such a manner as to afford the least obstruction to pedestrian traffic.

  13. Riding on paths adjacent to a roadway. Whenever a usable path or designated bikeway has been provided adjacent to a roadway, bicycle riders shall use such path or bikeway and shall not use the roadway.

  14. Helmet required. Every person fourteen (14) years of age or younger shall wear a protective helmet that meets the standards promulgated by the American National Standards Institute in the American National Standard for Protective Headgear for Bicyclists, approved on March 12, 1984, or the Snell Memorial Foundation’s 1990 Standard for Protective Headgear, whenever riding or being carried on a bicycle on any street, highway, sidewalk, or public bicycle path. A copy of these standards is kept on file in the office of the city clerk and may be examined from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on regular business days.

(Ord. No. 858; Ord. No. 1454, 10-12-93)

Sec. 20-58. Riding or driving on sidewalks.

The city manager, upon the request of any owner of any property adjacent to any public sidewalk, may prohibit or restrict the use of such sidewalks by persons riding bicycles, provided such restrictions are posted; and further provided, however, that children who have not attained their thirteenth birthday are not prohibited in the first instance from riding bicycles and similar leg-propelled children’s devices upon sidewalks. This exception is subject, however, to the right of residents to file complaints of disturbance and to request that the exception herein be modified or set aside in proper cases as found by the court to constitute abuse by such children of pedestrian or neighborhood rights to peace and the use of sidewalks.

(Ord. No. 858)

Sec. 20-59. Violations.

It shall be unlawful for any person to violate any of the provisions of sections 20-52 through 20-58. Any such violation shall, upon conviction, be punishable as a traffic infraction. In the case of subsection 20-57above, violation shall be punishable by a fine of twenty-five dollars ($25.00). However, such fine shall be suspended for `first-time violators; and (ii) for violators who, subsequent to the violation but prior to imposition of the fine, purchase helmets of the type required by this ordinance.

(Ord. No. 858; Ord. No. 952; Ord. No. 1454, 10-12-93)

Cross references: General penalty for violations of Code, S 1-7.

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