02

Blog

Virginia Bike Laws

VIRGINIA BICYCLE LAWS

It’s important to know your legal rights (and duties) when bicycling in Virginia. It is especially important after a bicycle accident (we call them bicycle “crashes” and explain why here).

For any questions about the State’s bike laws, or about your rights to the road, contact attorney Timmy Finch directly.

Right to the Road

  • Virginia bicyclists generally have the same rights, and same duties, as drivers of motor vehicles.

Prohibitions

  • Clinging to motor vehicles while biking is not permitted.
  • Bicycles may only carry the number of persons for which it is designed.
  • Cyclists may not carry any items which prevents them from keeping at least one hand on the handlebars
  • Virginia law prohibits the wearing of headsets or earphones on both ears while riding

Helmets

  • Required by local ordinance for any operator or passenger 14 years of age or younger in Alexandria, Arlington Co., Fairfax Co. Falls Church, Vienna and other jurisdictions.

Alcohol

  • Virginia’s DWI statute does not apply to bicyclists.

Where to Ride

  • When in travel lanes, bicyclists must ride with the flow of traffic as closely as practicable to the right side of the roadway.
  • Full lane use allowed when traveling at the normal speed of traffic, passing, preparing for a turn, avoiding hazards, traveling in a lane too narrow to share and avoiding a mandatory turn lane.

Sidewalks

  • Sidewalk riding is permitted except where prohibited by local ordinances but bicyclists riding on a sidewalk must yield the right of way to pedestrians and give an audible signal before passing a pedestrian.

Bike Lanes, Bike Paths and Multi-Use Paths

  • Mandatory use of bike lanes is not required.

Stop Signs and Traffic Control Devices

  • Bicyclists are required to come to a full and complete stop at all stop signs and traffic lights displaying a red signal.

Signaling

  • Cyclists must give the proper signals that are visible to other bicyclists and cars when turning or stopping.

Drivers Overtaking Bicyclists

  • Motor vehicle drivers must allow at least 3 feet of space when passing a bicyclist.

Bicycles Passing Cars

  • Cyclists may overtake and pass another vehicle or cyclist on either side of the road, staying in the same lane as the overtaken vehicle/cyclist, or change to a different lane, or ride off the roadway as necessary to pass with safety

Group Riding

  • Bicyclists may not ride more than 2 abreast and may not impede motor vehicle traffic.
  • Cyclists riding two abreast must move into single file if they impede the normal flow of traffic or when being overtaken from the rear by a faster moving vehicle or cyclist;
  • On a laned roadway, cyclists riding two abreast must ride in a single lane.

Equipment

  • Front white light and rear red reflector required when dark, may be attached to operator; rear red light required on roads 35 mph and up.
  • Bikes must have functioning brakes.

Electric Assist Bikes

  • E-bikes are defined as “electric power assisted bicycles,” so long as the e-bike’s motor is under 1,000w, has a maximum speed of 25mph and has operable pedals. The same rules of the road apply to both e-bikes and human-powered bicycles.
  • E-bikes are not subject to the registration, licensing or insurance requirements that apply to motor vehicles.
  • Helmets are not required but the age minimum for e-bike use is 14.
  • E-bikes are allowed on sidewalks and bike paths.

Comments

SELMA BIKE RIDE
Danny Feldman Jul 24, 2020

This year, before COVID, over 600 bike riders from over 25 states retraced the steps of the Civil Rights Marchers from Selma to Montgomery. The event was about much more than just riding a bike, as participants toured historic sights and were led by civil rights leaders and historians.  The annual ride is an example […]

Read More
BLM Strava
Lauri Boxer-Macomber Jul 22, 2020

Hundreds of athletes are currently in the midst of participating in what may very well be the most significant Strava art project ever – the spelling out of Black Lives Matter from NY to ME in “virtual letters” large enough to be read from outer space.  This BLM Strava art challenge initially began as a […]

Read More
Minnesota Cycling Advocate
Daniel Brazil Jul 01, 2020

I recently had the great opportunity to interview fellow cycling advocate, Dave Sanderson, the chair of Pedal Fergus Falls, a Minnesota bike advocacy group. What began as a simple conversation about advocacy turned into an inspiring deep dive into the work Pedal Fergus Falls has done and continues to do for our cycling community. Pedal […]

Read More
Bike Safety
Daniel Brazil Jun 05, 2020

As a cyclist (and bike crash attorney), I often worry that I’m placing my life in the hands of motorists each time I hop on my bike. And stories like this one about bike safety recently shared on Outside Online heighten my fears, as cyclist deaths continue to rise across the U.S. even in a […]

Read More
Biking After COVID 5
Ann Groninger May 28, 2020

What will biking after COVID be like? Before COVID, it seemed like there was a handful of people in my city who rode bikes to get places, and we all knew each other. We’ve always had a robust recreational road riding community of people who gather after work and on weekends to head out to […]

Read More
Bike Advocate
Bruce Hagen May 26, 2020

If you’ve ridden a bike anywhere in Atlanta, chances are you’ve met Atlanta bike advocate Angel Poventud.  If you’ve stopped for a post-ride beer, been to an important advocacy event, or to any major Atlanta gathering, chances are you have met Angel Poventud.   It may only seem that Angel is everywhere, but when you […]

Read More
Load More