Anyone who rides a bike in and around Portsmouth, Virginia (VA) should take time to read up on bicycle laws in Virginia. Being aware of your rights and responsibilities will help keep you safe when out for a ride along the Elizabeth River, near the Naval Shipyard or one of the many busy downtown streets. Our team of Portsmouth bike accident lawyers compiled some of the most important and relevant bicycle laws and regulations. Check them out below…
Virginia helmet regulations
One of the most important areas of Virginia law to understand concerns helmets. Though study after study has shown that wearing a helmet can go a long way to improving a cyclist’s odds of surviving an accident, that does not mean that everyone always makes the effort to wear a helmet.
However, in some places in Virginia wearing a helmet is not just recommended, it is a legal requirement. Rather than regulate the issue of helmets on a statewide basis, Virginia legislators have relegated the question of bicycle helmets to local officials. State law says that helmets are not required, unless a specific local ordinance addresses the issue.
According to the Virginia Department of Transportation, the following jurisdictions have some form of helmet law in place: City of Alexandria, Amherst County, Arlington County, City of Charlottesville, Clarke County, City of Falls Church, Fairfax County, Floyd County, City of Hampton, City of Harrisonburg, James City County, Town of Leesburg, Town of Luray, City of Manassas, City of Manassas Park, City of Norfolk, Orange County, City of Petersburg, Prince William County, Stafford County, Town of Vienna, Town of Wise and York County.
Though the City of Norfolk requires that some bicycle riders wear a helmet. You’ll notice that Portsmouth is not currently listed among those jurisdictions with such a requirement. This is because Norfolk is located just across the water, it’s important to understand exactly what the law in the city requires of riders. The law in place in Norfolk, and various other cities and towns across the state, says that any person 14 or younger is required to wear a helmet whenever he or she is riding or being carried on a bicycle on any highway, sidewalk or bicycle path.
What about adults?
According to the existing ordinances in place across the Commonwealth, adults are exempt from even the local helmet laws. Though there is no legal obligation to wear a helmet, it’s important to remember that helmets absolutely save lives and the lack of regulation should not be mistaken for an endorsement of helmet-free riding.