If you are someone who rides to work, takes part in biking events, or loves to go on leisurely bike rides from time to time, it’s critical to be aware of your rights as well as duties as a bicyclist in Virginia.

Rights of Bicyclists in Virginia

Section 46.2-800 of the Code of Virginia states that bicyclists have the same rights and duties as people who drive motor vehicles. You are required to ride with the flow of the traffic, stop at red signals, and signal while making a turn – just as motorists do.

Apart from this, there are a few cycling-specific laws that you should be aware of as a bicyclist in Virginia.

The Far Right Rule

Section 46.2-905 of the Code of Virginia requires bicyclists to stay at the far end of the traffic as much as possible. The law is in place to make sure that bicyclists do not impede or slow down the flow of the traffic on the roadway.

There are, however, a few circumstances under which you are not required to follow the far-right rule. They include:

  • When you need to overtake or pass a vehicle which is proceeding in the same direction as you are
  • When you need to make a left-turn into a driveway, a private road, or at an intersection
  • When you need to avoid a fixed or moving object, pedestrian, animal, or any other safety hazard
  • When you are in a turn-only lane and you do not wish to make a turn     
  • While riding your bike on a one-way street

The 3 Feet Rule

Section 46.2-839 of the Code of Virginia states that any motorist who attempts to pass a bicyclist needs to maintain a distance of at least 3 feet between their vehicle and the bicycle.

The Dooring Rule

Section 46.2-818.1 of the Code of Virginia states that it is illegal for a motorist to open the door of their vehicle into traffic without making sure if it is safe to do so. If they accidentally open the door and strike a bicyclist, they not only have to pay a fine, but can also be held liable for the injuries caused to the bicyclist.

The Right of Way Rule

According to Section 46.2-820 of the Code of Virginia, when two vehicles stop at an intersection, the vehicle on the right – even if it is a bicycle – has the right of way.

Similarly, at a circular intersection, the vehicle which is already in the circle – even if it is a bicycle – has the right of way over the vehicles approaching the circle.

The Sidewalk Rule

Section 46.2-903 of the Code of Virginia states that bicyclists are allowed to ride their bike on sidewalks, except in places where it is prohibited by local ordinances.     

The Passing Rule

Section 46.2-907 of the Code of Virginia states that bicyclists have the right to pass other bicyclists as well as motorists, on the left side or on the left side, as long as it is safe to do so.             

Why Cycling-Specific Laws Matter

The purpose of these laws is twofold.

Firstly, they minimize the risk of motor vehicle-bicycle collisions by placing the burden of responsibility on motorists – maintaining the 3 feet rule, not opening the door into traffic, and so on.

Secondly, they make it easier for bicyclists to establish the liability of offending motorists in the event of a collision. For instance, if a person suddenly opens the door of their car and knocks you onto the road, you can establish their liability in court by pointing out the fact that they failed to follow the dooring rule and recover damages for your injuries.

Cycling Mistakes to Avoid

  • Do not ride against the flow of traffic for any reason.
  • Do not ride your bike without wearing a helmet.
  • Do not cling on to a motor vehicle while riding your bike.
  • Do not carry any object that makes it difficult for you to keep at least one of your hands on the handlebar.
  • Do not ride at night without wearing reflective clothing.
  • Do not try to overtake or pass a motor vehicle unless you are convinced that it is absolutely safe to do so.
  • Do not try to make a turn or come to a stop without giving the proper signal.

Bicycle Accident Attorneys in Virginia

The consequences of a crash involving a motor vehicle and a bicycle can be quite serious. Depending on the severity of the collision, the cyclist might suffer bruises, broken bones, or debilitating injuries that might take a lifetime to heal. So, it is important to hire an experienced Virginia bicycle accident attorney who can build a strong case against the driver who caused the accident and recover an appropriate compensation.

The personal injury lawyers at Shapiro, Appleton, & Washburn have handled several bicycle accident cases over the years and recovered substantial amounts of damages through settlement as well as litigation.

If you or any of your family members have been injured in a bicycle accident in Virginia, we can file a claim or lawsuit against the parties responsible and recover damages for the economic and non-economic losses caused by the accident.

For a free and confidential consultation with one of our bicycle accident attorneys, call us today at (833) 997-1774.