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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

Peter Wilborn Jun 12, 2019

Eric Amis, Jr., was killed around Midnight on May 16 while he was riding on an E-scooter near the West Lake Marta station in Atlanta.   In typical fashion, the police and media focused on all the wrong parts of the story. The driver who hit Mr. Amis was praised for “remaining at the scene of […]

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Charlie Thomas Jun 12, 2019

Should Texas pass a statewide law that bans drivers from buzzing bicyclists? Should Texas fully ban a person from holding a cell phone while driving? We’ve had a decade to consider this issue. Here are my thoughts. A few weeks ago, I sat in the Texas A&M Cycling Team’s last meeting of the school year. […]

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Bob Mionske Jun 12, 2019

It’s the second weekend of June, which means it’s crit season. The Real Critters head to Tulsa Tough. The second-tier critters go to Ballard Crit. And River City Bikes? We just went 1-2 at the Hammer Velo Crit in Portland, Oregon. It’s a flat course on wide open roads with a sweeping right-hander leading to […]

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Danny Feldman Jun 12, 2019

Robert Traphan, a native of Greenwich, Connecticut, settled in Montgomery, Alabama after serving in the Air Force until 1993.  (picture of Robert) He owned and operated a number of Internet companies for more than a decade until 2006, when he took a job as a software engineer with the Alabama Retirement System of Alabama, where […]

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Bruce Hagen Jun 10, 2019

When it comes to cycling Joe Seconder is equal parts participant, zealot and activist. For example, a portion of his LinkedIn profile reports: Bicycling Advocate / Evangelist. Proactively engaging to make my community, the Atlanta Region and the State of Georgia be a better and safer place to simply go for a bike ride – […]

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Bob Mionske Jun 10, 2019

May 2017 Two years ago—almost to the day—Colin Gibson and I headed east of the Cascades to a little town called Maupin. The plan was to get two epic days of training in before Colin became a father two weeks later. We only had vague ideas of what was in store for us on that […]

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Kathryn Doornbos
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Kathryn Doornbos is the executive director of Redemptive Cycles, a non-profit organization in Birmingham, Alabama operating since 2013.  Redemptive’s mission is to “redeem the streets” by getting more people on bicycles to make Birmingham a “more connected, comfortable and livable city.” Redemptive works to achieve its goal by selling many refurbished and some new bicycles, […]

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Charlotte Ride of Silence
Ann Groninger May 16, 2019

This year was my 10th Ride of Silence and the 10th one Bike Law North Carolina has co-sponsored in Charlotte. Hearing the poem read and seeing the throng of bicyclists roll silently out, is always chilling, no matter how often I see it. And rolling back in, knowing that music, refreshment and followship await, is […]

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Michigan Ride of Silence
Bryan Waldman May 15, 2019

Tonight, multiple communities in Michigan will join in the Ride of Silence, an annual ride that happens around the world to honor people who have been killed or injured while riding a bicycle on a public highway or road.  Additionally, the Ride of Silence is intended to serve as a reminder, or raise awareness, of […]

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Ride of Silence
Bob Mionske May 14, 2019

This year marks the 17th anniversary of the Ride of Silence, which honors cyclists who have been killed by a motor vehicle collision. In 2003, Chris Phelan organized the first Ride of Silence in Dallas, Texas after Larry Schwartz was killed by a bus while riding. Larry’s death was horribly tragic for the Dallas cycling community. […]

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Ann Groninger May 09, 2019

Earlier this year, I began working with Ann Groninger, representing bicyclists in North Carolina. I have worked as a personal injury attorney for more than five years. For many years, I’ve been an avid runner, completing my second Boston Marathon two weeks ago. Working with Bike Law North Carolina has inspired me to ride my […]

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Brendan Kevenides May 09, 2019

As the train crossed from Belgium into the Netherlands my excitement grew.  I sat forward to get a better look out of the window at the country side. Then I saw them, beautiful, clean, pale red ribbons stretching through the low lying land.    They were bicycle paths; actually not so much paths as bicycle highways, […]

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