In Which Direction Should Bicyclists and Pedestrians Ride or Walk on Virginia Highways?

Being a Virginia personal injury attorney and having handled numerous bicycle and pedestrian injury cases, I find it amazing how many Virginia pedestrians walking along residential roads near my home, are not aware that they are violating the law when they walk with traffic. I’ve actually dismounted my bike and kindly explained to some of the folks I see routinely walking near my home, that if a car tragically sideswiped one of them they would have no valid personal injury claim because they are walking in the wrong direction since they were walking with traffic instead of against traffic as required. A couple of groups thanked me and said they never knew that. But it’s totally true: in the Commonwealth of Virginia, all pedestrians must walk facing or against traffic not with the direction of traffic. Most Virginia bicyclists know that they are supposed to ride with traffic and they will not have a valid personal injury claim in normal circumstances if they are riding against traffic.

Is it safe for pedestrians to walk in the same direction as traffic?

If you were injured as a bicyclist or pedestrian in Virginia Beach, our legal team can file a claim for financial recovery on your behalf. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced Virginia bicycle and pedestrian injury attorneys.  

In the meantime, you can read up on state laws regarding the rights and responsibilities of pedestrians and bike riders to help ensure the safety of everyone on Virginia’s roadways. 


Virginia driving laws apply to anyone operating a vehicle on the Commonwealth’s roadways. This means that even people riding bicycles are required to obey the rules of the road.  

Some basic laws that apply to bicycles include:

  • Reflectors must be used when riding at night.
  • The use of appropriate hand signals is required when making turns.
  • Cyclists are permitted to ride on sidewalks.
  • Cyclists must obey the same driving laws as motor vehicles, including those pertaining to traffic lights, yield signs, and stop signs.

What Is Virginia’s Three Feet Rule?

In January 2021, Virginia enacted a new “three feet” rule. This law requires drivers to allow a minimum of three feet of room between their vehicle and any cyclists they pass. In previous years, the minimum amount of space was only two feet. The purpose of this law is to substantially decrease the number of bike accident-related injuries and fatalities, especially in heavily populated areas like Virginia Beach. 

Police officers can issue a traffic citation to any motorist who fails to obey this law. If a driver is unable to pass a bicyclist at a safe distance of three feet or more, then it is unlawful for them to do so. Drivers who find themselves in this position should change lanes before passing.  


Cars, trucks, pedestrians, motorcycles, and bicycles need to share the road to help prevent injuries and accidents. In Virginia, a pedestrian is defined as someone on foot or, more precisely, anyone who is not operating a motor vehicle. In other words, a person riding a scooter or a skateboard, walking, or even roller skating is regarded as a pedestrian. A common misconception is that pedestrians in Virginia automatically have the right of way over cars. Although they do have certain protections under the law, they are also beholden to certain rules when sidewalks and crosswalks are present.  

Where Can Pedestrians Legally Cross the Street in Virginia?

A pedestrian is only allowed to walk on a highway or roadway in the absence of a sidewalk. In this scenario, pedestrians are required to keep to the lefthand side of the roadway and walk on the shoulder if there is enough room or against oncoming traffic.  

Virginia does give pedestrians on sidewalks the right of way. Legal action might be merited if a driver loses control of their vehicle and hits a pedestrian using the sidewalk. Pedestrians also have the right of way in a crosswalk provided they follow the crossing signals, if present. Drivers are expected to come to a full stop for any pedestrians in unmarked and marked crosswalks until they cross the road.

Pedestrians may not enter a roadway open to traffic from a place where they are not readily visible. If a driver’s view of a pedestrian is restricted, and they collide with a pedestrian stepping into the street from an unmarked spot, the vehicle will have the right of way.

Always consult with an experienced pedestrian accident attorney following a vehicle/pedestrian collision.

Call Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

If you were involved in a bicycle or pedestrian accident for which you were not at fault, a skilled Virginia bicycle and pedestrian injury attorney from Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp can help. The role of a personal injury lawyer extends beyond filing papers and initiating a lawsuit. It includes supporting their clients through a difficult time by shouldering the legal aspects of their burden.  

Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp is a personal injury law firm in Virginia Beach backed by over four decades of legal knowledge and experience. We have the talent and resources that are integral to winning your case. Schedule a free case review by calling us at (833) 997-1774. 

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