Tips for Cyclist to Avoid Being Injured in a Virginia Bike Accident

Rules While Cycling in Virginia

Virginia has laws that apply to those riding bicycles on the roads in Virginia.  It is important to follow them not just becasue you can be ticketed but because following the rules of the road can help you avoid being injured in a bicycle accident.  Even if the accident is not your fault, usually the cyclist is the one hurt when a bicycle and car collide.

I have taken the Virginia laws and tried to simplify them by taking out the legaleze in the Virginia Code.  I have cited the code sections if you want to look the code up.

Virginia Bicycle Laws--Riding Rules

Cyclists are expected to use signals to let others know their intentions. 

Left turn:   left arm should be extended horizontal position straight from and level with the shoulder

Right turn: left arm should be extended upward or
                right arm extended ina horizonal position straight from and level with the shoulder

Slow down: left arm should be extended downward or
                 right arm extended downward

If you are traveling less than 35 mph, the signal should be given continuously for a distance of 50 feet before slowing down, stopping, turning or partly turning.

The signals must be made but do not have to be made continuously if both hands are needed to control the bike. 
                                                                                               Virginia Code § 46.2-849

When making a left turn at an intersection with traffic signs or signals, a cyclist may make the turn as a vehicle would, as a pedestrian would or by stopping and walking the bike through the crosswalks.
                                                                                                Virginia Code § 46.2-847

If riding with other riders, you should not ride more than two by two.  If you ride two by two, you should not impede traffic, and if being passed, you should move to single file. 
                                                                                                 Virginia Code § 46.2-905

If you are riding your bike on a roadway you may not attach yourself to any other vehicle on the roadway.
                                                                                                 Virginia Code § 46.2-932

Where You May Ride

Virginia law allows you to ride your bicycle on sidewalks.
                                                                                                  Virginia Code § 46.2-903


A county, city or town may prohibit bikes from sidewalks or crosswalks, but they must post signs conspicuously in the general area where bikes are prohibited.
                                                                                                   Virginia Code § 46.2-904

If you ride your bike on a sidewalk, shared-use path, or across a roadway in the crosswalk, you must yield the right of way to any pedestrian, and you must given an audible signal before overtaking and passing a pedestrian.
                                                                                                   Virginia Code § 46.2-904

If you are riding your bike on a sidewalk, shared use path, or across a roadway in the crosswalk, you have the same rights and duties as a pedestrian.
                                                                                                     Virginia Code § 46.2-904

On a roadway you must ride as close as safely possible to the right curb or edge of the road if you are riding at less than the normal speed of traffice at the time place adn under existing conditions, except

  • When you are passing another vehicle going in the same direction

    When you are preparing to make a left turn

    When you must avoid objects, pedestrians or other hazards or substandard width lanes make it unsafe to ride on the right edge.  (a substandard width lane, as it applies to bicycles, is one that is too narrow for a bicycle and another vehicle to pass safely side by side within the lane. 

    When you need to avoid being in a right turn only lane

    When you are on a one way street you may ride as close to the left as possible
  •                                                                                                Virginia Code § 46.2-905

Drivers Responsibilities to You as a Virginia Bicyclist

A driver overtaking a bicycle in the same direction has to pass at a reasonable speed at least two feet to the left of the overtaken bicycle.
                                                                                           Virginia Code § 46.2-839

A driver overtaking a bicycle should not go back to the right side of the highway until the driver is safely clear of the overtaken bicycle.
                                                                                            Virginia Code § 46.2-839

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