Bicycle Safety in Virginia: A Short Guide

Virginia is considered one of the most bicycle-friendly states in the country. Many Virginians bike to work every day and hit the trails in the weekends with their family.

While biking is a terrific way to get some exercise and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Commonwealth, it is not an entirely risk-free activity. Cyclists face a lot of hazards, as they have to share the road with other vehicles.

Data from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles shows that there were 635 collisions involving bicyclists in 2019, which resulted in 13 deaths and 614 serious injuries.

In any collision involving a bicycle and another vehicle, the bicyclist is likely to incur serious injuries – especially if the vehicle happens to be an automobile – since they are virtually unprotected. So, if you are an avid bicyclist, it is extremely important for you to be aware of the laws pertaining to biking in Virginia and the rules you need to follow to keep yourself safe on the road.

Bicycle Laws in Virginia

Section 46.2-903 of the Code of Virginia states that bicyclists have the right to use sidewalks unless it is explicitly prohibited by ordinance.

Section 46.2-904 of the Code of Virginia states that a person who is riding his bike on a sidewalk, crosswalk, or shared-use path is required to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians. The bicyclist is also required to give an audible signal, which is loud enough to be heard by the pedestrian, before attempting to overtake or pass them.

The section also states that a person who rides their bike on a sidewalk, crosswalk, or a shared-use path has the same rights and duties of a pedestrian.

Section 46.2-905 of the Code of Virginia states that bicyclists should ride as close to the right edge of the road as possible. The keep-right rule, however, is exempted under certain circumstances, which include:

  • When you are attempting to make a left turn
  • When you are riding your bike on a one-way
  • When you are overtaking another vehicle
  • When you have to avoid a lane that turns or diverges to the right
  • When you are trying to avoid a hazard – which might include stationary objects, animals, pedestrians, parked or moving vehicles, and surface hazards

Section 46.2-906 of the Code of Virginia states that bicyclists must not carry any object or package that prevents them from keeping at least one of their hands on the handlebar.

In addition to this, several city-specific laws are also in place to regulate the operation of bicycles in the Commonwealth.

For instance, Section 7-59 of the Code of the City of Virginia Beach states that a person who is riding their bike on a sidewalk, crosswalk, or a shared-use path is required to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians. They are required to give an audible signal while attempting to pass or overtake a pedestrian.

The section also states that bicyclists must dismount and walk their bike as and when needed to avoid making physical contact with other people who share the same space.

Section 10-20 of Newport News City Code states that a person who is over the age of 14 is allowed to ride a bicycle only on designated sidewalks which are at least 8 feet wide.

How Bicyclists Can Protect Themselves

Bicyclists in Virginia can protect themselves by following the rules listed below.

  • Before you go on a ride, make sure each and every part of your bike is in proper working condition.
  • Check the tires and make sure they are inflated properly.
  • Make sure your bicycle has a bell or horn which is loud enough to be heard by pedestrians and motorists.
  • Make sure your bicycle has a rear-view mirror, a front headlight, and reflectors on spokes and pedals.
  • Never, ever ride your bicycle without wearing a helmet.
  • Avoid riding at night to the extent possible. If you must do so, make sure you wear fluorescent-colored clothing which is easily visible in the dark.
  • Familiarize yourself with the rules of the road, as you have to follow the same rules as motorists.
  • Maintain a safe distance from other vehicles – especially automobiles.
  • Use audible signals as well as hand signals while making a turn – especially at intersections.
  • Do not ride – even for a short distance – if you are fatigued, sleepy, or drunk.

Experienced Bicycle Accident Lawyers in Virginia

The injuries you sustain in a bicycle accident might require a lifetime of medical management and severely affect your earning capacity. So, it is critical to hire a dedicated and established Virginia personal injury attorney who can fight hard on your behalf and recover the compensation you deserve from the at-fault party.

Over the past 30 years, the personal injury lawyers at Shapiro, Appleton, & Washburn have represented countless victims of vehicular accidents in Virginia and recovered substantial damages – including several multi-million dollar settlements. Our lawyers are exceptionally skilled, have years of trial experience, and have the resources and knowledge to win even the most complex of personal injury cases.

If you or anyone in your family has been injured in a bicycle accident, call us today at 800-752-0042 for a free and confidential consultation.


Richard N. Shapiro
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Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia
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