Virginia - Statewide

Statewide

Rights and Duties

Every person riding a bicycle on a highway shall be subject to the provisions of the Code of Virginia section on motor vehicles and shall have the rights and duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle unless a provision clearly indicates otherwise.

Reference: S46.2-800


Definitions

A bicycle is defined as a device propelled solely by human power, upon which a person may ride either on or astride a regular seat attached thereto, having two or more wheels in tandem, including children's bicycles except a toy vehicle intended for use by young children. A bicycle is a vehicle when operated on the highway.

  • A bike lane is defined as that portion of a roadway designated by signs and/or pavement markings for the preferential use of bicycles, electric power-assisted bicycles, and mopeds.

  • A shared use path is defined as a bikeway that is physically separated from motorized vehicular traffic by an open space or barrier and is located either within the highway right-of-way or within a separate right-of way. Shared use paths may also be used by pedestrians, skaters, users of wheel chair conveyances, joggers, and other non-motorized users.

  • A sidewalk is defined as the portion of a street between the curb lines, or the lateral lines of a roadway, and the adjacent property lines, intended for use by pedestrians.

  • A highway is defined as the entire width between the boundary lines of every place open to public use for purposes of vehicular travel.

  • A roadway is defined as the portion of the highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the shoulder.

  • A vehicle is defined as every device used for the transportation of people or property on a highway.

Reference: S46.2-100


Traffic Controls

Bicyclists must obey all traffic signs, signals, lights, and markings.

Reference: S46.2-830


Where to Ride

  • Bicyclists must ride with the flow of traffic on the right side of the highway.

  • Bicyclists operating a bicycle on a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place under conditions then existing shall ride as close as safely practicable to the right curb or edge of roadway. Exceptions to this are when bicyclists are overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction, preparing for a left turn, avoiding unsafe conditions, avoiding riding in a lane that turns or diverges to the right, riding on a one way street where bicyclists may ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of roadway, or when the lane width is too narrow to share with a motor vehicle. Additionally, bicycles are not excluded from riding on the highway shoulder.

  • Bicyclists must not ride between two lanes of traffic moving in the same direction unless one lane is a separate or mandatory turn lane.

  • Bicyclists cannot ride more than two or more abreast on highways. When riding two abreast, bicyclists cannot impede the movement of traffic, and need to move into single file when being overtaken from the rear. On a laned roadway, bicyclists shall ride in a single lane.

  • Bicyclists are not permitted to ride on Interstate and certain other controlled access highways. The restricted sections of the highways are marked with conspicuous signs.

  • Bicycles may be ridden on sidewalks unless prohibited by local ordinance or traffic control devices. While on sidewalks and shared use paths, bicyclists must always yield the right of way to pedestrians and give an audible signal before passing a pedestrian.

  • Bicyclists pulling onto a sidewalk or highway from a driveway must yield the right of way to pedestrians or vehicles already on the sidewalk or highway.

Reference: SS46.2-802, 46.2-808, 46.2-826, 46.2-903, 46.2-904, 46.2-905, 46.2-907


Changing Directions

Bicyclists must signal their intentions to stop or turn. The proper signals are made with the left arm as follows:

Right turn
Right Turn
Left turn
Left Turn
Stop
Stop

A right turn may be signaled with the right arm. The signals do not have to be given continuously if both hands are needed to control the bicycle.

Bicyclists may make left turns as either motorists or pedestrians do. To make a pedestrian left turn, the bicyclist should continue straight across the intersecting road, obey the traffic signals, turn left at the corner, and proceed as usual. Bicyclists may also dismount and walk in the crosswalks of the two intersecting roads. If traffic control devices specify the method of crossings, these directions must be followed. Please refer to the examples shown here:

Turns diagram

Reference: SS46.2-846, 46.2-847, 46.2-848, 46.2-849


Passing

Bicyclists may overtake and pass another vehicle only when safe to do so. Bicyclists may pass another vehicle on the right or left, and they may stay in the same lane, change lanes, or ride off the road if necessary for safe passing. Please note that passing motor vehicles on the right side may be extremely dangerous if the motorist does not see the bicyclist and attempts a right turn.

A person riding a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric power-assisted bicycle, motorized skateboard or scooter, or moped shall not travel between two lanes of traffic moving in the same direction, except where one lane is a separate turn lane or a mandatory turn lane.

Motorists must approach and pass a bicyclist at a reasonable speed at least two feet to the left of the bicyclist.

Reference: SS46.2-839, 46.2-907


Safety Considerations

  • Bicyclists must not carry articles which prevent them from keeping at least one hand on the handlebars.

  • Bicyclists must not carry more people than the bicycle is designed to accommodate, except for adult bicyclists carrying a child, under six years of age, securely attached to the bicycle in a seat or trailer designed to carry children.

  • Bicyclists must not attach themselves or their bicycles to any other vehicle on the roadway.

  • Bicyclists are not permitted to wear earphones in both ears while riding a bicycle.

Reference: SS46.2-906, 46.2-932, 46.2-1078


Helmet Use

Several jurisdictions in Virginia require that every person fourteen years of age or younger shall wear a protective helmet whenever riding or being carried on a bicycle on any highway, sidewalk, or public bicycle path. The jurisdictions reporting such ordinances to VDOT are:

  • Albemarle County
  • City of Alexandria
  • Amherst County
  • Arlington County
  • Clarke County
  • City of Falls Church
  • Fairfax County
  • Floyd County
  • City of Hampton
  • James City County
  • Town of Luray
  • City of Manassas
  • City of Manassas Park
  • City of Norfolk
  • Orange County
  • City of Petersburg
  • Prince William County
  • Stafford County
  • Town of Vienna
  • Town of Wise
  • York County

Reference: S46.2-906.1


Equipment

Every bicycle ridden between sunset and sunrise must have at least one white headlamp with the light being visible at least 500 feet to the front. The bicycle must have a red reflector on the rear visible at least 600 feet to the rear. On roads posted with speed limit of 35 mph or greater, the bicyclist must additionally be equipped with at least one red taillight visible from 500 feet to the rear. Taillights may be steady or blinking, are allowed under all conditions, and may be attached to the cycle or rider.

Bicycles ridden on highways must have brakes which will skid the wheels on dry, level, clean pavement.

Reference: SS46.2-1015, 46.2-1066


Registration

Bicyclists may register the serial numbers of their bicycles with local police or sheriff's department.

Localities have the authority to license bicycles.

Reference: SS46.2-908, 15.2-1720


Accidents

Bicyclists must stop when they are in an accident involving death, injury, or property damage. The bicyclist's name and address must be given to the police and to any person involved in the accident or the owner of the property. If unattended property is damaged, the bicyclist must make a reasonable effort to find the owner. The bicyclist's name and address must be given to the owner. If the owner can not be located, the bicyclist must leave a note in a conspicuous place at the accident site and report the accident to the police within 24 hours.

Reference:SS46.2-894, 46.2-895, 46.2-896


Important Note on Infractions

Violation of state traffic laws is considered a traffic infraction and is punishable by a fine of not more than $100 unless other specific penalty provisions apply.


Tips for Safe Bicycling

  • Be a responsible bicyclist - obey all traffic control devices and use proper hand signals.

  • Always ride with the flow of traffic.

  • Dress safely - wear a helmet, wear bright colored clothing, and secure loose pant legs.

  • Ride defensively - anticipate the actions of other road users and watch for road hazards.

  • Pass vehicles with extreme care - turning vehicles may not see you.

  • Be aware of motor vehicle blind spots whether while riding or when stopped at an intersection.

  • Maximize your visibility at night - wear reflective clothing and apply reflective tape to your bicycle.

  • Walk your bicycle when you get into traffic situations beyond your cycling abilities.

  • Exercise great caution when riding in bus traffic - watch out for buses pulling to and from curbs and passengers getting on and off buses.

  • Park your bicycle so you do not block sidewalks, handicap and building accesses, or emergency drives.

  • Lock your bicycle - secure both wheels and the frame to a stationary object using a sturdy lock.

  • Register or license your bicycle if required or provided by your community.

(All of the above Virginia state info. is found at the link below.)

http://www.vdot.virginia.gov/programs/bk-laws.asp#Rights%20and%20Duties

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